Before 2021, police officers needed a criminal conviction, failed drug test or evidence of neglecting certain standards of training to have their certifications revoked in Virginia. As a result, relatively few officers experienced this disciplinary action. However, in 2020, the state passed a law that expanded the scope of what it takes to decertify a member of law enforcement. This law was part of the sweeping police reform measures seen across the United States that year.
Since this law took effect in 2021, the number of police officers undergoing decertification greatly increased. Here are some of the reasons.
Since the law passed, serious misconduct has come to include such things as using excessive force on those convicted of a crime or behaving in such a way that makes others question their trustworthiness and credibility. For example, the guidelines surrounding the use of neck restraints by an officer became more specific to include only using these restraints when the immediate life or safety of the officer or a bystander is at risk.
Can officers contest their decertification?
Like with any disciplinary action, the recipient of the action may want to contest the claim that they did something wrong. There is an appeals process that officers can elect to pursue if they wish, and under certain circumstances, these decertified members of law enforcement may have their certifications restored.
People can be better proponents for their rights once released from custody when they are aware of what is and is not acceptable behavior by a member of law enforcement.