RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico’s lead prosecutor is responding to weeks of protests across Central Virginia calling for social justice. While Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor’s job involves working closely with police, she’s still left with an important question - who’s policing the police? Now her office plans to take action.
Taylor says when it comes to policing, even officers have to abide by the law and show respect.
The calls for change have been loud and strong. You've been watching what's unfolding in Central Virginia and so has Henrico's top prosecutor.
“The tipping point,” Taylor said referring to where the nation is now following the death of George Floyd.
“I have been listening. I have heard what they’ve been saying and when I talked about change happening, this is action,” she added.
That's why her office is immediately recruiting for a new Deputy Attorney who will focus on police integrity and compliance. In other words, making sure Henrico cops are doing the right thing.
“When they’re talking about accountability and what they believe to be unjust and unfair treatment by law enforcement, the question is well whose watching them?” Taylor said about the police.
She says while body cameras help a great deal, they're not enough. Her office will also establish an email address where people can send their concerns about police who may have crossed the line.
“This is not a statement to suggest that anybody’s doing anything automatically wrong but to the extent that the community’s voice, particularly the African-American community who do not believe that their voice has been heard, this is just letting them know ‘I hear you’,” Taylor added.
You’ve probably also heard the growing calls to “defund the police”.
Taylor says when it comes down to it, we need law enforcement but she agrees with re-thinking whether police officers should respond when there’s a non-violent emergency or a situation involving mental health.
The additional Deputy Attorney position is expected to be filled by the Fall.
While the role is new, the position technically isn’t. Taylor says the position was frozen but the County Manager agreed to unfreeze it to allow for this new focus.
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