RD165 - Virginia State Crime Commission 2014 Annual Report

Executive Summary:
The Crime Commission held four Commission meetings in 2014: September 23, October 21, November 10, and December 2. During the 2014 General Assembly Session, a total of three mandated studies, five bill referrals, and three letter requests were sent to the Commission and approved for review. The Commission also decided to continue its comprehensive study on illegal cigarette trafficking. Additionally, staff was requested to assist in the implementation of statutorily created child abuse multi?disciplinary teams, which was passed as part of the Crime Commission’s legislative package during the 2014 Session of the General Assembly. The Commission continues to be involved in the Forensic Science Board’s DNA Notification Project.

The Commission was mandated by Senate Joint Resolution 24 to study the issue of expungement of juvenile records. Specifically, staff was directed to review all laws related to the confidentiality and retention of juvenile court records, report on at what time and by whom juvenile record information can be accessed, determine whether existing confidentiality and destruction of records laws are being complied with, examine the impact on youthful offenders of having a juvenile record, and make recommendations regarding improvements in the laws that would assist juvenile offenders while allowing law enforcement to maintain the safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

The Commission was mandated by Senate Joint Resolution 64 and House Joint Resolution 62 to study the issue of missing persons/search and rescue. Both resolutions, which were identical, focused upon the current state of readiness of Virginia’s law enforcement and search and rescue efforts for rapid and well-coordinated deployment in all missing, endangered, and abducted person cases. Specifically, staff was mandated to study what needs to be done in order to get increased, large?scale rapid search and rescue coordination efforts, immediate notification to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) when a person is determined to be endangered or abducted, additional resources and staffing needs for VDEM and law enforcement, cross?training between command staff and VDEM’s Search and Rescue Program, support services for families of missing persons and to implement other recommendations the Crime Commission deemed necessary.

The Commission was mandated by House Bill 885 to study sexual and domestic violence victim service agency funding. A work group was created to examine an efficient and comprehensive streamlining of current federal and state sexual and domestic violence victim service agency funding, including general funds, nongeneral funds, and special fund monies. The work group convened three times and was comprised of over 30 representatives with specific knowledge of sexual and domestic violence agency funding.

Staff researched several additional issues as a result of bill referrals and study requests that were referred to the Commission during the 2014 Session of the General Assembly. Staff reviewed Senate Bill 353, which dealt with criminal history record checks and barrier crimes. Staff examined human trafficking, juvenile prostitution and the reporting of suspected cases of child human trafficking as a result of Senate Bill 373 and House Bill 486. Staff also reviewed House Bill 344 which sought to add penalties for impersonating another while engaging in the harassment of a third person, using a computer, as well as House Bill 707 that included a review of digital impersonation penalties and how such a statute should best be drafted. Staff conducted a brief review of sexting and existing child pornography laws as well. Presentations on special conservators of the peace and private police departments were provided by the Secretary of Public Safety, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

As a result of these studies, a number of recommendations and police options were endorsed by the Commission with some being introduced as legislation during the 2015 Session of the General Assembly. The Commission’s legislative package included bills dealing with digital impersonation and harassment, human trafficking, illegal cigarette trafficking, juvenile records, missing persons/search and rescue, private police departments, reproduction of child pornography, sexual and domestic violence agency funding, and special conservators of the peace.

The Commission continues to be involved in the Forensic Science Board’s DNA Notification Project. The Commission’s Executive Director serves as a member of the Forensic Science Board and is the Chair of the DNA Notification Subcommittee, which is charged with the oversight of the notification project.

In accordance with the Code of Virginia § 19.2?163.02, the Commission’s Executive Director also serves as the designee on the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission.

Detailed study presentations for all of these studies can be found on the Commission’s website at: http://vscc.virginia.gov.