December 6, 2011
The Virginia State Crime Commission has endorsed legislation to improve cooperation between campus police and local police departments.
The measure to require "mutual aid agreements" for handling death and sexual assault cases on college campuses will be part of the commission's legislative package for the 2012 General Assembly. The panel voted to back the measure at its meeting Tuesday.
Democratic Del. Paula Miller of Norfolk originally proposed divesting campus police of authority over such investigations, citing potential conflicts with college administrators. Campus police objected to Virginia House Bill 2490, also known as Kathryn;s Law, and Miller submitted a revised bill that takes the more collaborative approach.
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. Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) is the chair of the commission and says it will be beneficial to have more input and resources.
The full General Assembly will take up the issue in January.
Kathryn's Law, proposed by Miller on behalf of Susan Russell, the mother of a former University of Virginia student who claims she was raped and says her case was largely ignored by university police, was also backed by Dan and Gil Harrington, the parents of murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
In response to the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, the commission also voted to add college employees to the list of professionals required to report suspected child abuse.