The ACLU of Virginia firmly believes that reforming law enforcement practices, training, and policies is critical in the fight toward a better criminal justice system for our state. The disturbing patterns of racial profiling, the selective enforcement of laws against people of color, have resulted in a disproportionate impact on minority communities.
Communities should not rely on law enforcement agencies to produce revenues for the general fund budget nor should law enforcement agencies look to fines and forfeitures, including civil asset forfeiture, as budget supplements that allow the purchase or acquisition of military-style equipment or surveillance technologies. Trust in those who are supposed to serve and protect us requires transparency and accountability. There should be civilian oversight, statewide uniformity among body-worn camera policies, targeted use of surveillance technology (e.g., stingrays, automated license plate readers, facial recognition, etc.), and policies that promote de-escalation and limit the use of force in police encounters with individuals.
Did you know?
●Under Virginia law, law enforcement can stop you and seize your money (or property) if they have reason to believe that you’re selling drugs. They don’t even have to charge you with a crime. This is called civil asset forfeiture (or, “policing for profit”). Since July 1991, law enforcement agencies have taken in more than $106 million through the Commonwealth’s asset forfeiture program.
●With the use of post-9/11 federal grants, 100 localities and state police in Virginia have outfitted their departments with surplus military equipment, including mine-resistant vehicles, with little to no oversight or public discussion.