Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 18.2. Crimes and Offenses Generally
Chapter 4. Crimes Against the Person

§ 18.2-50.2. Emergency control of telephone service in hostage or barricaded person situation.

A. The Superintendent of the State Police or the chief law-enforcement officer or sheriff of any county, city or town may designate one or more law-enforcement officers with appropriate technical training or expertise as a hostage and barricade communications specialist.

B. Each telephone company providing service to Virginia residents shall designate a department or one or more individuals to provide liaison with law-enforcement agencies for the purposes of this section and shall designate telephone numbers, not exceeding two, at which such law-enforcement liaison department or individual can be contacted.

C. The supervising law-enforcement officer, who has jurisdiction in any situation in which there is probable cause to believe that the criminal enterprise of hostage holding is occurring or that a person has barricaded himself within a structure and poses an immediate threat to the life, safety or property of himself or others, may order a telephone company, or a hostage and barricade communications specialist to interrupt, reroute, divert, or otherwise control any telephone communications service involved in the hostage or barricade situation for the purpose of preventing telephone communication by a hostage holder or barricaded person with any person other than a law-enforcement officer or a person authorized by the officer.

D. A hostage and barricade communication specialist shall be ordered to act under subsection C only if the telephone company providing service in the area has been contacted and requested to act under subsection C or an attempt to contact has been made, using the telephone company's designated liaison telephone numbers and:

1. The officer's attempt to contact after ten rings for each call is unsuccessful;

2. The telephone company declines to respond to the officer's request because of a threat of personal injury to its employees; or

3. The telephone company indicates when contacted that it will be unable to respond appropriately to the officer's request within a reasonable time from the receipt of the request.

E. The supervising law-enforcement officer may give an order under subsection C only after that supervising law-enforcement officer has given or attempted to give written notification or oral notification of the hostage or barricade situation to the telephone company providing service to the area in which it is occurring. If an order is given on the basis of an oral notice, the oral notice shall be followed by a written confirmation of that notice within forty-eight hours of the order.

F. Good faith reliance on an order by a supervising law-enforcement officer who has the real or apparent authority to issue an order under this section shall constitute a complete defense to any action against a telephone company or a telephone company employee that rises out of attempts by the telephone company or the employees of the telephone company to comply with such an order.

1992, c. 479.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.