Among the new state public safety laws that have taken effect are those that get tougher on sexual violence and other sex crimes – as well as laws that pertain to DNA collection, alcohol and drug abuse, and licensed day care centers.
Virginia now imposes new felony charges for commercial sex traffickers. Colleges and universities have new reporting requirements for sexual assaults on campus. And as a result of several recent tragedies, a law sponsored by Senator Mark Obenshain now requires the collection of DNA from those convicted of criminal misdemeanors.
It hasn’t made many headlines, but this is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month—and Virginia has announced that more than 24,000 crashes statewide last year were attributed to distracted drivers.
Those distractions caused both fatalities and thousands of injuries. State officials stress that such accidents can be prevented.
The first thing state Highway Safety Office Director John Saunders does at work each day is read the traffic fatality report from the previous day. Saunders warns that behind the numbers are real people with families.
As the public conversation continues about the appropriate use of police force, a number of state lawmakers are proposing the use of body-worn cameras by public safety personnel to document what happens during traffic stops and other interactions.
That has prompted a Secure Commonwealth Panel subcommittee to thoroughly examine all of the issues surrounding use of the cameras in the Commonwealth. They turn out to be far more complex than just strapping on a camera and recording police business.
It’s been eight years since a disturbed student went on a shooting spree at Virginia Tech, killing 32 people before taking his own life. Since then, colleges and universities have made significant changes to prevent future tragedies.
Since the shootings at Virginia Tech, a cottage industry has sprung up around campus security.
“These are challenging times for colleges and universities. Crime on campus is more concerning than ever, tragic shootings, student suicides, injuries, suspicious behaviors, concerning events are coming from every direction.”
One recently approved bill that’s still under review by Governor McAuliffe arose from the case of murdered UVa student Hannah Graham—and was championed by Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding. The bill would require collection of DNA from people convicted of certain misdemeanors….with their DNA added to the state’s criminal database. The governor had raised some objections to the legislation while the General Assembly was still in session.