Governor Signs New Legislation to Support Public Safety Officials

At an early afternoon event at the Henrico County Public Safety Building, Governor Bob McDonnell signed legislation to provide for those who protect and serve the Commonwealth.   Among the bills signed were measures to:

  • Elevate penalties to deter assaults on ABC enforcement agents, fire marshals and emergency healthcare workers.
  • Create a Blue Alert system to help capture offenders who kill or seriously injure a law enforcement officer.
  • Authorize the Governor to position the National Guard and the Virginia State Defense Force prior to the formal declaration of a state of emergency.

Speaking about the signing, Governor McDonnell remarked, “I am always inspired by the unwavering commitment demonstrated by Virginia’s public safety officials to the security and safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth. We have once again witnessed that commitment over the past few weeks in the coordinated response to the devastating tornadoes and severe storms that affected localities throughout Virginia. It is important that we honor the service and sacrifice of the nearly 165,000 public safety officials who protect and serve us each and every day.   This legislation does that.”

The Governor added, “This bill signing takes place just after we have learned the tremendous news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, following operations led by a Virginia-based Navy Seal Team. This news reminds us, yet again, of the heroism of Virginia’s public safety community following the tragic events of September 11, 2001.   I am pleased that some of the first responding agencies to that attack are represented here today.   We are forever grateful for their service and sacrifice.”

Following the ceremony, Senator Richard Stuart said, “It is important that we honor the service and sacrifice of those citizens who protect and serve us in uniform each and every day. The legislation that Governor McDonnell signs today provides additional protections for Virginia’s public safety officials, including my SB 870 which establishes a Blue Alert Program to create an alert system to help capture offenders who kill or seriously injure a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.”

Delegate Beverly Sherwood also remarked, “It was my pleasure to assist the Governor and the Department of Military Affairs in authorizing the flexibility needed to stage forces quickly during certain emergency circumstances without an official state of emergency being declared.”

Governor McDonnell also signed a proclamation commending the 192 Fighter Wing of the Virginia Air National Guard on their “Excellent” rating on the ACC Operational Readiness Inspection.

Public Safety Legislation Signed Today:

HB1516 (Orrock) – Elevate Penalty for Assaulting an ABC Enforcement Agent to Class 6 Felony

  • Elevates the penalty for assaulting an ABC Enforcement Agent to a Class 6 Felony, which yields a mandatory minimum term of confinement of at least six months
  • Unfortunately, since 2002 there have been more than 60 Special Agents assaulted throughout the Commonwealth
  • This bill will serve as a deterring factor against future attacks on these enforcement agents

SB870 (Stuart) – Establish a Blue Alert Program

  • Establishes a Blue Alert Program to be administrated by the Virginia State Police to create an alert system to help capture offenders who kill or seriously injure a law enforcement officer in the line of duty
  • Operates similarly to Virginia’s Amber Alert system and serves to protect those who protect us
  • Provides residents of the Commonwealth with information about a dangerous person and their possible whereabouts

SB772 (Locke) – Elevate Penalty for Assaulting a Fire Marshal to Class 6 Felony

  • Elevates the penalty for assaulting a fire marshal with police powers to a Class 6 Felony, which yields a mandatory minimum term of confinement of at least six months
  • Provides additional measures to ensure their safety by deterring future attacks

HB1690 (Stolle) – Elevate Penalty for Assault Emergency Healthcare Worker to Class 1 Misdemeanor

  • Elevates the punishment for assaulting of a health care provider rendering emergency medical care to a Class 1 misdemeanor, including a term of confinement of 15 days in jail

HB1774 (Sherwood)/SB891 (Wampler) – Authorize Governor to Position National Guard and the Virginia State Defense Force Prior to Declaration of a State of Emergency

  • Authorizes Governor to allocate sufficient funding for preparation of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia State Defense Force to respond to certain circumstances, regardless of whether an official state of emergency has been declared
  • Allows critical manpower and resource placement in advance of an official emergency declaration in order to ensure efficient, effective, and timely response
  • Provides the flexibility needed to stage forces quickly during certain emergency circumstances without the declaration of an official state of emergency

HB1994 (Janis) and SB1128 (Stosch) – Institute Penalty (Class 4 misdemeanor) for Members of the Virginia National Guard Who Fail to Report

  • Provides Adjutant General of Virginia the necessary tools to ensure all members of the Virginia National Guard report for duty
  • While the overwhelming majority of Guardsmen faithfully serve, this legislation will deter instances where soldiers or airmen fail to adhere to their service obligations

HB2213 (McQuinn) and SB944 (Howell) – Require Department of Criminal Justice Services to Establish Model Policy and Training Standards for Pursuits and Police Lineups

  • Requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish training standards and a model policy for best practices for law enforcement pursuits and for responding to emergency calls as well as instituting police lineups
  • Legislation is the result of a comprehensive study performed last fall by the Virginia State Crime Commission

HB1580 (Dance) – Allow Paid or Volunteer Firefighter to Purchase Issued Helmet or Boots at Discount

  • Allows a locality to permit any paid or volunteer firefighter with over 10 years of service to purchase the helmet or boots issued to the firefighter at fair market value
  • Authorizes a locality to allow a paid or volunteer firefighter with over 20 years of service to purchase the helmet or boots issued to the firefighter at a price of $1

HB1713 (Wilt) – Provides Additional Protections for Witnesses in Gang Cases

  • Adds to the list of crimes committed for which there is a rebuttable presumption against admission to bail, obstruction of justice where a person threatens bodily harm or force to knowingly attempt to intimidate or impede a witness
  • Assists the Commonwealth in reducing criminal gang activity through the prevention of witness intimidation in gang cases