RD17 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2012 Interim Executive Summary of Activities

    Executive Summary:
    Established in 1966, the Virginia State Crime Commission (“Commission”) is a legislative agency authorized by the Code of Virginia § 30-156 et seq. to study, report, and make recommendations on all areas of public safety and protection. The Commission is a criminal justice agency as defined in the Code of Virginia § 9.1-101.

    The Commission consists of thirteen members -- nine legislative members, three non-legislative citizen members, and one state official, as follows: six members of the House of Delegates appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates in accordance with the principles of proportional representation contained in the Rules of the House of Delegates; three members of the Senate appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; three non-legislative citizen members appointed by the Governor; and the Attorney General or his designee.

    Throughout 2012, the Commission held four Commission meetings: September 5, October 2, November 13, and December 5. During the 2012 General Assembly Session, a total of one mandated study and two bill referrals were sent to the Commission and approved for review. The Commission also received several other requests for studies. The Department of Criminal Justice Services requested the Commission to determine if the current regional training academy model used to train law enforcement officers is the best model for Virginia. As part of this study, the issue of law enforcement officer decertification was also reviewed. During the study year, the Commission also decided to review the issues of financial crimes against incapacitated adults and texting while driving. Additionally, the Commission heard a report from the Department of Forensic Science concerning the growing problems surrounding synthetic marijuana and research chemicals. The Commission continues to be involved in the Forensic Science Board’s DNA Notification Project.

    The Commission was mandated by Senate Joint Resolution 21 to study the issue of illegal cigarette trafficking. Specifically, why illegal cigarette trafficking occurs; methods and strategies used by smugglers; financial impacts on State and local governments, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers; prevalence, availability, and methods used to counterfeit cigarettes and cigarette tax stamps; beneficiaries of cigarette trafficking; statutory options; identify uses of technology to prevent and access costs and benefits; develop policy and legislative recommendations; and identify public health implications of illegal non-regulated cigarettes. A final report will be published as a 2013 Senate Document.

    Throughout the year, staff reviewed two study issues as a result of bills being referred to the Commission during the 2012 Session of the General Assembly: Senate Bill 205, which dealt with the collection of forensic evidence in cases of suspected sexual assault where the alleged victim cannot give consent and House Bill 923, which proposed a reorganization of the concealed weapons statute without any substantive changes. Details about these studies will be made available as attachments to this document, as well as in the 2012 Annual Report. Detailed study presentations can be found on the Commission’s website at: http://vscc.virginia.gov.

    In addition to these studies, the Commission’s Executive Director serves as a member of the Forensic Science Board pursuant to the Code of Virginia § 9.1-1109(A)(7). The Executive Director also acts as the Chair of the DNA Notification Subcommittee, which is charged with the oversight of notification to convicted persons that DNA evidence exists within old Department of Forensic Science case files that may be suitable for testing.

    In accordance with the Code of Virginia § 19.2-163.02, the Commission’s Executive Director also serves on the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, and specifically as a member of the Budget Committee and the Personnel and Training Committee.