Virginia lawmakers advance bills to improve safety on college campuses

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 3:43 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia lawmakers are moving to prevent any more tragedies on college campuses.

House of Delegates Republicans and Senate Democrats passed two separate, though similar, bills that boost threat assessment teams at public universities.

The legislation comes just three months after the shooting that killed three University of Virginia football players.

“I think it is a great step in the right direction to prevent something like this from ever happening again,” Michael Haggard, lawyer for the family of D’Sean Perry, said.

Senate Bill 910 and House Bill 1916 would change the steps a threat assessment team must take once it notes a dangerous person at a college.

“If you’ve got a credible threat that somebody intends to cause significant and specific violence, then we have a case where local law enforcement and campus police can share records. The bill also outlines that if you have a student who is a cause for concern, and they transfer across college campuses, the threat assessment teams can share records in that case,” 57th Distirct Delegate Sally Hudson (D) said.

Del. Hudson also teaches at UVA.

“If the state can play a role in ensuring that our college campuses across Virginia share best practices for threat assessment teams, then that’s one important part of keeping everybody safe.”

The University of Virginia already had a that assessment team when tragic shooting happened in the fall. However, this bill would make every collge in the commonwealth have the same policy.

“Virginia legislature is talking about that something now has to be done and it needs to be reported to authorities, and that was not done. It did not escalate to the point it should have. Unfortunately, three beautiful young men lost their lives,” Haggard said.

Both bills passed the House and Senate, but they are work group bills, meaning they’re relatively vague at this point. The secretaries of education and public safety will convene a task force to decide what the policies will be.

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