Gov. Youngkin on March 1 vetoed legislation that would have provided Arlington with a police auditor reporting to the County Board, not the county manager, saying police could be impacted by “politically motivated” efforts.
“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,” the governor said in a press statement announcing the veto, the first of his tenure.
Democrats in the state Senate on a party-line 21-19 vote on Feb. 23 had approved a measure from Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) that earlier had won support in the House of Delegates with backing from Democrats and a number of Republicans.
A companion bill in the Senate, patroned by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington-Fairfax-Loudoun) on Jan. 20 had been approved by the upper body on a party-line 21-19 vote and is now in the House of Delegates.
Given opposition to the measure among Republicans (particularly in the state Senate), it is likely the veto of Hope’s bill (and Favola’s, if it comes to Youngkin’s desk) will be upheld.
The bills apply only to Arlington, where state law currently prevents the County Board from direct employment of any staff beyond the county manager, county attorney, clerk and auditor. Adding a police auditor responsible to the board, rather than county manager, was one of the recommendations when County Board members in 2021 approved revisions to policing policies in the county.