Harringtons Push for Campus Crime Legislation

November 16, 2011

The Virginia State Crime Commission seems set to embrace Legislation to bolster cooperation by campus and local police departments, but not force campus police to turn over murder and rape cases to local law enforcement.

The issue was on the agenda for Wednesday's commission meeting, and Dan and Gil Harrington were in attendance.

Inspired by two instances of sexual violence that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia House Bill 2490, commonly referred to as Kathryn's Law, would require serious crimes that happen on college campuses to be investigated by local law enforcement rather than university/campus police.

"Information is power. Information is everything. I know that, again this is why we want there to be a rule about this," said Gil Harrington, the mother of murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.

Agreeing with only part of the bill, the commission directed its staff to draft a measure that would require the departments to adopt mutual aid agreements governing investigations of deaths and sexual assaults on Virginia campuses. The commission will decide whether to make the measure part of its legislative package next month.

Del. Paula Miller (D-Norfolk) originally proposed Kathryn's Law on behalf of Susan Russell, the mother of Kathryn Russell, a former University of Virginia student who claims she was raped and says her case was largely ignored by university police.

Campus and local police alike opposed the bill, saying it would weaken college police departments.

In response to the sex-abuse scandal at Penn State, the commission also directed staff to draft Legislation requiring college employees to report suspected child abuse.

Also on the agenda was a staff report on cyberbullying and impersonating people on social media websites. The commission reviewed what other states are doing to address the legal aspects of cyberbullying, and Facebook officials shared what that popular social media site is doing to combat the problem.

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