Virginia Governor Northam has vetoed House Bill 2142, which would allow for the creation of school protection officers, a new type of officer with undefined duties and indeterminate training. Virginia law already provides for school resource officers and school security officers, two types of officers with well-defined duties and stringent, uniform training standards.
In a statement, Gov. Northam noted that "School resource officers and school security officers have well-defined duties and responsibilities set forth in the Code of Virginia and are required to meet stringent training standards that are administered uniformly through the DCJS certification process. In stark contrast, the bill neither delineates what duties school protection officers would be authorized to perform nor defines the “limited” law enforcement services to be provided by school protection officers."
In addition, he said, "The bill gives DCJS the impossible task of developing training standards for an officer whose duties are undefined and could vary significantly depending on the employing local law enforcement agency. Further, as the bill enables the local law enforcement agency employing the school protection officer to conduct the officer’s training, such training would not be subject to the same level of oversight as the training of school resource officers or school security officers."
He concluded: "Allowing a new type of officer with undefined duties and indeterminate training will not serve to make Virginia’s students and schools safer. Therefore, there is no compelling reason to create school protection officers when Virginia law already provides for two types of trained officers to provide security in the Commonwealth’s schools."