Legislators working on behalf of a request from the Arlington County government are shepherding measures through the General Assembly providing for creation of an independent police auditor for the county.
The position, whose occupant would report directly to the County Board rather than the county manager, would assist the civilian body created last year to oversee the Arlington County Police Department. Legislative approval of the position is required, since current law only allows the Arlington County Board to directly employ the county manager, county attorney, clerk to the board and financial auditor.
In the state Senate, an enabling measure by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington-Fairfax-Loudoun) cleared the Committee on Local Government 10-5, but passed the state Senate on a slim party-line 21-19 vote.
That could spell trouble in the House of Delegates, where Republicans now hold the majority. Even though the bills are targeted only at Arlington and would not apply elsewhere in the commonwealth, some Republican delegates from out of the region might still reflexively vote “no” either due to opposition to the content of the measure or simply to stick it to Arlington’s local leaders (as has happened in the past).
Even if the measure clears a House committee, it could still be hung up and either killed in a floor vote or not brought up at all.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) has proposed a companion bill to Favola’s. If his bill makes it out of the House of Delegates alive, it probably will be passed by the Senate and move to the desk of Gov. Youngkin. If it does not, then Favola will have the opportunity to try and change some delegates’ minds after “crossover,” when her bill moves down the hall to the House of Delegates for consideration.