The Arlington County Board said Wednesday that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s veto of its police oversight bill was “deeply frustrating.”
“The Arlington community has created a Community Oversight Board ordinance informed by national best practices and empowered to work with an Independent Policing Auditor to conduct concurrent yet independent investigations with law enforcement,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol said in a statement.
“(Arlington County police), and our individual officers, set a very high standard for professionalism, and adding community oversight only serves to improve legitimacy, ensure accountability and increase transparency.”
HB 670, sponsored by Democratic Del. Patrick Hope, would have allowed the county board to appoint an independent policing auditor. The county’s civilian police review board could have delegated powers to the auditor, who would serve at the pleasure of the oversight board.
Current law says that such an auditor is hired by the county manager.
The board said the effort to establish an oversight body took over a year, and that Youngkin’s veto — the first of his time in office — “took less than a week to disrupt the hard work of so many Arlingtonians.”
“It is deeply frustrating that the linchpin of our plan, which sought to bridge perspectives and unite our community, has been struck down by the Governor,” Cristol said.
The board also objected to some of Youngkin’s reasoning behind the veto, particularly the governor’s statement that the bill would create an auditor that was “a single politically appointed individual” with “the power of judge, jury, and executioner.”
According to the board’s statement, under Arlington County ordinance, neither the Community Oversight Board nor the Independent Policing Auditor provides binding disciplinary determinations.
Cristol said the board will keep looking for options to move forward with its plan, including meeting with Youngkin and his staff “to address a clear misreading of Arlington’s intentions.”
WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report.
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