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.”
Charlottesville City Council has approved the selection of Michael Kochis to serve as the city’s next police chief. Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers made the announcement during last night’s City Council meeting after explaining the process.
The firm Polihire was hired to conduct the search and they identified five candidates. Three finalists appeared last week at a forum run by the Police Civilian Oversight Board and the process also included input from committees.
“Through that process and looking at the rating of the various committees of the various candidates it became clear that one candidate stood above the others,” Rogers said. “That candidate was Michael Kochis.”
For over three and a half decades, Fred Payne has served as the county attorney in Fluvanna on a contract basis. Payne will soon retire and Fluvanna is proceeding in a new direction.
“A decision has been made to move forward with creating a County Attorney Department to have in-house staff assistance as the County continues to grow,” writes County Administrator Eric Dahl in a staff report.
On Monday, three finalists for the position of Charlottesville Police Chief appeared at a forum at the Carver Recreation Center that was an event of the Police Civilian Oversight Board.
“The PCOB, though a new element in our government, is an an important component in assuring there is transparency and accountability in the execution of police services in our community,” said Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers.
The candidates are:
Latroy A. “Tito” Durrette, acting Charlottesville Police Chief (view resume)
Michael Kochis, Chief of Police in the Town of Warrenton (view resume)
Easton L. McDonald, Major-Division Commander, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department (view resume)
A veteran firefighter with over thirty years experience but only five months in Charlottesville has been named as the interim chief of the city’s department.
Michael L. Thomas has been the Deputy Chief of Community Risk Reduction since June 2022 after retiring from the Lynchburg Fire Department. He will succeed Chief Hezedean Smith, who has left to become chief in Polk County, Florida.
“Chief Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and an Associate Degree in Fire Science. He holds certifications as a Fire Inspector, Fire Investigator, Certified LEO, Incident Safety Officer, has attended the National Fire Academy, and is currently enrolled in ICMA’s (International City/County Management Association) Professional Development Academy,” reads a press release with the announcement.
Another high-profile vacancy has opened in Charlottesville City Government. Hansel Aguilar has resigned as executive director of the Police Civilian Oversight Board effective October 21. He was appointed to the position last September.
During his tenure, City Council adopted an updated ordinance that gave a new name to what had been the Police Civilian Review Board, a name that reflected additional powers for the body.
“The ordinance granted the board more supervision of the Police Department by providing the ability to receive, investigate and issue findings on complaints made by civilians toward the Police Department,” reads a press release.
Hansel Aguilar is soon to be the former director of the Charlottesville Police Civilian Oversight Board (Credit: City of Charlottesville)
The office for the Police Civilian Oversight Board has a budget of $362,677 in the current fiscal year.
Aguilar will become the Director of Police Accountability in Berkeley, California. He had worked for the Office of Police Complaints but was terminated by Washington D.C. in 2019. He appealed his firing and was initially awarded a reversal but the case was appealed to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The case is still pending according to a status report filed on September 21 in the United States Court of the District of Columbia.
Yesterday was the first day that Brenda Garton is back at work in Greene County to run that local government while the Board of Supervisors seeks a permanent county administrator. Mark B. Taylor resigned last month to take a position as School Superintendent in Spotsylvania County.
Garton previously served as Greene’s interim administrator after John Barkley stepped down in 2018. She’s also served in similar caretaker positions in Rappahannock County, Frederick County, Gloucester County, Orange County, and Prince George County.
“I enjoyed my previous service as the Interim County Administrator in Greene County in 2018 and 2019, so it will feel like coming home to work here again,” Garton said in a press release. “It is critical to the continuity of the organization, staff, and ongoing projects to maintain stability and steady progress while the Board searches for a new County Administrator.”
The next meeting of the Greene County Board of Supervisor is October 11.
There’s a new person in charge of Piedmont Virginia Community College. Dr. Jean Runyon became the sixth president on July 1 and she addressed the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors earlier this month.
“Before coming to Piedmont Virginia Community College I had the privilege to serve at three comprehensive community colleges, two in Maryland, one in Colorado, and coming back to Virginia is like coming home,” Dr. Runyon said.
Greene County has joined a growing list of communities that are searching for a new executive to lead local government. Mark. B. Taylor has resigned to become school superintendent in Spotsylvania County. He told the Board of Supervisors last night that he helped the county get a lot accomplished.
“Been here since April of 2019 and it has been quite an adventure,” Taylor said. “We all got through COVID. We worked together and established an [Emergency Medical Services] department after the [University of Virginia] canceled us.”