There are still six weeks until Michael Kochis becomes the chief of police in Charlottesville but the Warrenton top cop appeared at a press conference Tuesday to answer questions from local media. He addressed several issues head-on, including a climate of suspicion against law enforcement in Charlottesville.
“There is a volatile environment, but I don’t think that’s unique to Charlottesville,” Kochis said. “I think in general within our profession, you’re seeing a transition. I talked about this during the forum about what does the 22nd [century] policing report look like? And that may sound simple, but that answer, I believe, is pretty complex. And I think communities, whether it be Charlottesville, Alexandria, or any other jurisdiction in this country, is going to have to really figure it out and our leaders within our police organizations are going to need to do that.”
Alexia Williams of CBS19 News asked about the lawsuit from former Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney who is alleging racism and sexism in her legal case. Kochis said he met Brackney when she attended the November 28 Police Civilian Oversight Board forum but otherwise has not talked to her. (Brackney sues the City of Charlottesville, other parties, June 17, 2022)
“I’m not going to pass judgment on her or any of that to be completely honest with you,” Kochis said. “I will say the accusation of racism within not only a police department, any government entity or any position of trust, should be taken very seriously… But I will tell you that the accusation, you know, the officer, those officers who are accused of that if there are any that are being accused of that I don’t have specifics at this point. They deserve a full investigation.”
Isabel Cleary of NBC29 asked Chief Kochis how he would address the personnel shortages.
“The city manager has been pretty clear to me that recruitment and retention is one of those priorities,” Kochis said.
Alice Berry of the Daily Progress also asked a question.
“Can you tell us more about your plan to address rising gun crime in Charlottesville?” Berry asked.
“There is an issue with guns in the streets of Charlottesville, whether the data supports that or not, because the community obviously feels that way,” Kochis said. “So we need to figure out why that is, and who is these guns into the city, and address them. And so, you know, again, without having all the data matters as well, right. And that’s understanding what the community feels like how the community feels, and then also understand what does the data show. And then you got to put all that together and come up with a strategy to address those specific issues.
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