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Lawmakers Face Even More Calls to Transform Police Ahead of Special Session


Lawmakers are headed to Richmond later this month to consider a host of criminal justice reform efforts. And, they’ll be under intense pressure to take action.

Marcus-David Peters was an unarmed Black man experiencing a mental-health crisis when he was killed by Richmond police.

“Does anybody see us? Does anybody hear us? Does anybody care," asks his sister Princess Blanding. She’s working with advocates for criminal justice reform to create a Marcus alert system, named after her late brother to have mental health experts – not police officers – serve as first responders to people experiencing a crisis.

Blanding says, “we all know and understand that this system was never created to serve nor protect our Black people.”

She’s not alone. Over the last month, a new coalition known as the Virginia Coalition for Transforming Police has formed to help push lawmakers to realize that the time for reform is now.

Kofi Annan is president of The Activated People. 

“The legislative priorities aim to reduce police responsibilities and budgets and transfer non-criminal offenses to organizations that are better suited to handle people experiencing mental-health crisis or emotional trauma,” he explains.

The group’s legislative package calls for an end to school resource officers, a ban on racial profiling, reducing the number of justifications for pre-textual stops and a mandate for local civilian review boards that can investigate police misconduct.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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