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Public Safety Addendum
1. VA Code Section 19.2-386.23 Disposal of seized controlled substances, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, and paraphernalia.
Amend § 19.2-386.23 by adding the bolded language to subsections A., 1 and A., 2:
A. All controlled substances, imitation controlled substances, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids as defined in § 18.2-248.1:1, or paraphernalia, the lawful possession of which is not established or the title to which cannot be ascertained, which have come into the custody of a peace officer or have been seized in connection with violations of Chapter 7 (§ 18.2-247 et seq.) of Title 18.2, shall be forfeited and disposed of as follows:
1. Upon written application by the Department of Forensic Science, or any law-enforcement agency within the Commonwealth, the court may order the forfeiture of any such substance or paraphernalia to the Department, or law enforcement agency, for research and training purposes and for destruction pursuant to regulations of the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration and of the Board of Pharmacy once these purposes have been fulfilled.
2. In the event no application is made under subdivision 1 of this subsection, the court shall order the destruction of all such substances or paraphernalia, which order shall state the existence and nature of the substance or paraphernalia, the quantity thereof, the location where seized, the person or persons from whom the substance or paraphernalia was seized, if known, and the manner whereby such item shall be destroyed. However, the court may order that paraphernalia identified in subdivision 5 of § 18.2-265.1 not be destroyed and that it be given to a person or entity that makes a showing to the court of sufficient need for the property and an ability to put the property to a lawful and publicly beneficial use. A return under oath, reporting the time, place and manner of destruction shall be made to the court and to the Board of Pharmacy by the officer to whom the order is directed. A copy of the order and affidavit shall be made a part of the record of any criminal prosecution in which the substance or paraphernalia was used as evidence and shall, thereafter, be prima facie evidence of its contents. In the event a law-enforcement agency recovers, seizes, finds, is given or otherwise comes into possession of any such substances or paraphernalia that are not evidence in a trial in the Commonwealth, the chief law-enforcement officer of the agency or his designee may retain such substances or paraphernalia for training purposes or, with the written consent of the appropriate attorney for the Commonwealth, order destruction of same; provided that, a statement under oath, reporting a description of the substances and paraphernalia destroyed, and the time, place and manner of destruction is made to the chief law-enforcement officer and to the Board of Pharmacy by the officer to whom the order is directed.
Possession of controlled substances and marijuana for training purposes by law-enforcement personnel certified as handlers of dogs trained in the detection of controlled substances is necessary in the performance of their duties. It is important that these dog handlers have a means to access controlled substances and marijuana so that their dogs can be properly trained in the detection of such substances. This is necessary in order to give the dog handlers, the courts and the public confidence that such dogs are not improperly alerting to the presence of drugs when none are present, or not alerting when drugs are present.
2. VA Code Section 18.2-460. Obstructing Justice.
Amend paragraph A by adding the following bolded words:
If any person without just cause knowingly obstructs a judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, any law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer employed pursuant to § 3.2-6555 in the performance of his duties as such, or fails or refuses without just cause to cease such obstruction when requested to do so by such judge, magistrate, justice, juror, attorney for the Commonwealth, witness, law-enforcement officer, or animal control officer employed pursuant to § 3.2-6555 or shall flee during a lawful detention by a law enforcement officer, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Due to the precarious nature of pursuing a fleeing suspect on foot, this
amendment to the code will clearly outline that flight during a lawful detention is illegal. This may discourage suspects from fleeing on foot and eliminate additional risk to an officer in the performance of his/her duties. Officers often have difficulty securing warrants and/or obtaining convictions when suspects flee from them on foot, as some magistrates and courts interpret that fleeing from the police on foot while being lawfully detained is not a crime, even after a suspect is instructed to "stop." This added wording would clarify the code for all parties involved.
3. VA Code Section 46.2-833. Traffic lights; penalty.
Amend § 46.2-833 by deleting the following words:
...may be arrested without a warrant under this section if the arresting officer
is in uniform, displays his badge of authority ...
The requirement for an arresting officer to "be in uniform" and display his badge of authority should be changed to eliminate the "be in uniform" requirement. With the number of jurisdictions allowing officers to utilize their police vehicles both on and off duty this requirement serves to prohibit the ability of an "off-duty" officer or a detective in plain clothes from making a traffic arrest unless in uniform. The primary requirement should be proper identification by badge and identification card. If the citizen being stopped is not positive the officer is a police officer, the officer making the stop can obtain the assistance of a uniform officer to verify the plain clothes officer's status.
4. VA Code Section 18.2-174. Impersonating officer.
Amend §18.2-174 by changing the penalty from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony if impersonation occurs during the commission of another crime.
Any person who shall falsely assume or exercise the functions, powers, duties and privileges incident to the office of sheriff, police officer, marshal, or other peace officer, or who shall falsely assume or pretend to be any such officer, shall be deemed guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
However, if any person shall falsely assume or exercise the functions, powers, duties and privileges incident to the office of sheriff, police officer, marshal, or other peace officer, or who shall falsely assume or pretend to be any such officer, for the purposes of, or during the commission of any other crime, or for the purpose of circumventing or bypassing any security measures at any business or establishment they shall be deemed guilty of a Class 6 Felony.
Increasing the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony under certain circumstances will reflect the seriousness of the offense of impersonating a police officer. Most law abiding citizens will obey without question the directions or requests of a person they believe to be a law enforcement officer. An article in the Virginian Pilot newspaper on October 22, 2004 highlighted an individual who had posed as a law enforcement officer to stop females and then handcuffed and fondled them. Also, given the current terrorism environment, individuals who impersonate a police officer pose a threat to many security systems as some security personnel may be more likely to allow someone they believe to be a police officer to enter a secured area.
Office of the Sheriff
1. Inmate Medical Costs for Outside Services
Legislation to address the amount paid by local jails for medical services when seen by outside the facility physicians and hospitals.
Currently there is no regulation of the cost of these visits and local jails, in most cases, pay full hospital or doctor rates. This legislation would help reduce the cost incurred by the locality for inmates with severe or chronic conditions.
2. Sheriff Fees
Legislation that would increase the Sheriff's service fee for subpoenas, show causes, warrants, repossessions, levies, and evictions. Current fees have not increased in many years and increases would assist in off-setting a portion of rising expenses to provide these services.
Further, legislation to amend percentage of sheriff fees that would remain in the localities to 35%. Prior to the current distribution formula (Virginia Code Section 15.2-1609.3(B)), the localities retained 1/3 of this fee revenue as compared to the current 10% to 11% now retained in Chesapeake.