Virginia Democrats are proposing a long list of criminal justice reforms in response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, but while some of them – such as banning chokeholds – are aimed at protecting citizens, at least one measure could reduce protection for officers.
According to a document shared by multiple local reporters and retweeted by the Virginia Senate Democrats, the proposals include downgrading the charge of assault on a police officer from a felony to a misdemeanor.
“The Senate Democratic Caucus has led and is continuing to conduct a series of community conversations to discuss these issues and we have heard from the public that now is not the time for studies or delay and that changes must be made during our Special Session,” says the document, which is titled, “Senate Democratic Caucus Police Reform and Criminal Justice Equity Plan.”
It goes on to say, “We will continue to take public input and work with stakeholders, the House of Delegates, state agencies, and Governor Northam to refine these measures over the next 60 days.”
Currently, assaulting an officer is a Class 6 felony with a minimum penalty of six months in jail and a maximum of five years. Misdemeanors carry a one-year maximum and no minimum.