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by Brandon Jarvis

Glenn Youngkin has used his veto pen Tuesday for the first time since becoming governor in January.

The bill that began in the Republican House of Delegates was sponsored by Patrick Hope (D) and received bipartisan support in that chamber. It would have allowed Arlington County’s Board of Supervisors to appoint an independent policing auditor to oversee the department. It is a local bill, simply giving the power to the Board to make a hire. Arlington’s Board requires General Assembly permission to make new hires for positions like an independent police auditor, or even a dog catcher.

The veto from Youngkin is mostly symbolic because the county manager in Arlington can still hire for this position. The county manager does not require General Assembly approval to hire.

It is a show of opposition to citizen review boards from Youngkin. “The best way to ensure that any bad actors within law enforcement are held accountable is to stand up for law enforcement, not tear them down or subject them to politically-motivated inquiries,” the governor said in a statement about his veto.

10 Republicans voted for the bill in the House, but it passed in the Senate on strict 21-19 partisan lines. Hope said in a brief phone interview that the partisan split in the Senate was due to the citizen review board aspect of the bill. He also noted that he cannot remember the last time a governor has vetoed a local charter bill.

An aide from Youngkin’s office says that this is an early sign that the governor will be using his veto powers during his four-year term.

His full veto statement can be read below:

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 670, which would create a new politically appointed independent auditor position for the governing body of any county with the county manager plan of government.

Chapters 29 and 30 of the Acts of Assembly – 2020 Special Session 1 allow localities to adopt law-enforcement civilian oversight bodies to make binding disciplinary determinations, including termination and involuntary restitution. This legislation enables law-enforcement civilian oversight bodies under the County Manager form of government to delegate all the powers entrusted to them, investing unilateral and expansive authority, to a single individual appointed directly by the governing body.

Additionally, this legislation does not delineate the qualifications of the politically-appointed independent policing auditor. Furthermore, the prohibition against any person currently employed as a law-enforcement officer from service on a law-enforcement civilian oversight body conduces the appointment of an independent policing auditor without any formal input from a law enforcement officer.

Investing in a single politically-appointed individual the power of judge, jury, and executioner without any input from lawenforcement officers or delineated qualifications for such individual constitutes an undue burden for those who protect and serve the community.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

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By vascope