I know plenty of Democrats that want to ensure that law enforcement has the tools they need in order to protect us from criminals, just as I know plenty of Democrats who think it’s an outrage that illegal aliens and those who unlawfully hire them are actively protected from facing the consequences of their unlawful actions under current state and federal laws. Still, some are determined to cement a relationship between Democrats and the crowd that wants to ensure that criminals — illegal aliens and otherwise — are provided the highest degree of deference possible from law enforcement. This, depending on your political perspective, is either the best or the worst thing that could ever happen to the DPVA.
Case in point: Delegate Jackson Miller introduced HB 436 that would restore the discretionary powers of police officers to detain persons suspected of committing Class 1 and Class 2 misdemeanors instead of issuing them a summons and releasing them. Some examples of conduct that would apply here are vandalism, stalking, manufacturing fraudulent documents, violating a protective order, obstructing a police officer, concealment or removal of a child from a juvenile court hearing, assault or battery by mob, reckless handling of firearms, and sexual battery. Police officers previously could use their discretion and place suspects under arrest until a recent court ruling that took that power away. HB 436 would restore the powers of police officers to what they were prior to this ruling.
The blog Democratic Central, responding to the gnashing of teeth by the ACLU has decided that it’s really important for people to oppose this, and is calling on readers to contact members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and ask them to oppose HB 436. The rationale given for this position is “because racial profiling exists in Virginia, HB 436 will disproportionately increase the number of arrests and searches of of minorities.” This bill passed 87-12 in the House of Delegates, with even Northern Virginian “progressive” Democrats Brink, Caputo, Poisson and Amundson voting in favor of it. Were there really a plausible rationale that this would cause racially-based policing, there’s no way these folks would have voted in favor of HB 436.
If “progressives” such as those running “Democratic Central” are successful in convincing enough Democrats on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to vote against this bill, it should set up an interesting political dynamic within the Democratic Party. Will they really want to defend the notion that requiring catch-and-release of “peeping toms” is good policy in Virginia? That’s not going to play well at all state-wide. The Democrats are still struggling to define what they stand for as a party, and votes like these can really help determine whether the left-wing, or relative moderates within the party are going to be calling the shots, and how much ammunition they will effectively hand to Republicans for use in future elections.
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