Area police chiefs address Senior Statesmen of Virginia

The past two years have seen an uptick in the amount of violent crime in the Charlottesville Albemarle area, mirroring a national trend. During that time, there have also been leadership changes in the city and county’s police departments. 

Yesterday the Senior Statesmen of Virginia invited both Albemarle Police Chief Sean Reeves and Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis to join University of Virginia Police Chief Tim Longo to give an update and to answer questions. 

Moderator Bob Beard cited a June 12, 2023 story in the Charlottesville Daily Progress that reported a violent crime rate that is up 30 percent over a two year period. (read the story) (read the Crime in Virginia 2022 report)

“In Charlottesville, police were investigating five homicide cases in the first three months of the year, the highest number reported since 2017,” Beard said. 

Longo served as Charlottesville’s police chief from 2001 to 2016. He’s been UVA’s associate vice president for safety and security and chief of police in November 2019. Longo said he doesn’t put a lot of stock in the numbers. 

“I appreciate numbers, I’m not a numbers guy,” Longo said. “People say ‘what’s the stats on such and such?’ Who cares? Do you feel safe or not because it doesn’t matter if it’s 30 percent or one percent. At the end of the day, if you don’t feel safe in your home, or your school, or your church, or your shopping center, and neighborhoods? That’s all that matters.” 

Crime trends from the Crime in Virginia 2022 report released by the Virginia State Police (read the report)

Sean Reeves has been Albemarle’s Police Chief since March 2022. He rose up through the ranks of the department. He said collaboration with both Charlottesville and the University of Virginia often takes the form of sharing information. But Reeves pointed out another data point relevant to public safety.

“Last year, much like my counterparts, when I was sworn in as Chief of Police last March, we were operating with 30 officers down and that’s a significant number,” Reeves said. “Over the past year with our talented training and recruitment unit, with the support of our Board of Supervisors… we were able to make our starting salary a competitive salary.”

Reeves said that’s allowed the force to retain some officers and attract others. 

“I’m proud to announce that as of this August we’re hoping to be only two officers down from thirty,” Reeves said.

Reeves said that of the six homicides in Albemarle in 2022, the victims and murderers knew each other.  

Chief Michael Kochis said something similar. He began work in Charlottesville this past January. 

“We’ve had five homicides in the  city of Charlottesville since January,” Kochis said. “But what’s important to note is that everyone of those homicides involved people who either knew each other or were acquainted with each other. They weren’t random. So the data will show you we had five homicides. What the data’s not going to tell you is the conversations we’re having around the community with folks when they’re showing us bullet holes in their homes plugged with tissue so the breeze don’t come in. I mean, these are real stories.”

Want to learn more? The audio of the entire one-hour program is available for you to listen to on the Charlottesville Podcasting NetworkThanks to the Senior Statesmen of Virginia putting on the program. (visit the CPN site)

Left to right: Tim Longo, Sean Reeves, Michael Kochis (Credit: Sean Tubbs)

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the August 10, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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