Public Comments for: SB1329 - Summons; promises to appear after issuance.
The VACP supports SB 1329. We feel that the passage of this bill will eliminate unnecessary and avoidable confrontations with citizens. The refusal of an individual to sign a summons does not negate their responsibility to either prepay their fine or appear in court at the listed date and time. We feel this is a positive piece of legislation in line with other police reform bills. The VACP supports the concept of SB 1468 but continues to have concerns about language in a specific part of this bill. The bill states that we have to sign these certification forms if the applicant is a victim of a qualifying crime. There are two other reasons we can and are expected to deny signing a U-Visa certification form: if the victim failed to cooperate or they have been involved and convicted in serious crimes themselves. The language in question is found in lines 66-70, which states: “If the certifying official cannot determine whether the applicant is a victim of qualifying criminal activity or determines that the applicant does not qualify, the certifying official shall provide a written explanation to the person or the person's representative setting forth reasons why the available evidence does not support a finding that the person is a victim of qualifying criminal activity.” What needs to be added to the end of this sentence is “… or otherwise does not qualify.” This additional language is needed to provide chiefs or other certifying authorities the ability to deny signing these forms when they don’t meet any one of the qualifications, not just whether they are a victim of a certifying crime. For example, we cannot sign a form knowing a victim has not cooperated or refused to cooperate just because they were a victim. The code section needs to be more clear here to ensure we are not being required to put our signatures on a form when we know that someone fails one of the tests to qualify. We want to help our immigrant communities and provide them fair and consistent access to this federal process and we support requiring that agencies have a process in place to process these certification forms and publicly post these procedures. We do, however, want to ensure we are not making this process subject to additional abuse and fraud. We cannot sign these forms simply because they were a victim of a qualifying crime. They must also meet the other standards at the time that the forms are presented to us. From an integrity standpoint, we cannot put our signatures on a form that supports someone who we know is not cooperating
Virginia First Cities urges you to please support SB 1329. Placing an individual under arrest merely for refusing to sign a summons can quickly escalate into a much more dire situation, placing both the officer and the civilian in an unfortunate and unnecessary confrontation. When an individual refuses to sign a summons, the officer should have the option to indicate such refusal on the paperwork, provide a copy to the person, and conclude the incident. Virginia First Cities asks that Code of Virginia be amended to no longer require an arrest in this circumstance.