Category Archives: Public Safety

UVA Chief Longo addresses BOV audit committee on safety recommendations

The 17-member Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia is meeting this week at the Rotunda and yesterday a committee charged with overseeing audits and compliance gathered first. 

One of their discussions yesterday was a review of a public safety audit conducted after the events of August 11, 2017, when a large group of white supremacists led a tiki-torch parade around Grounds shouting slogans such as “Jews Will Not Replace Us.” This resulted in a confrontation in front of the Rotunda in which several were injured. 

The University of Virginia Police were criticized for inaction during the incident. A month later, UVA hired the firm Margolis Healy to conduct a review of safety and security programs and a series of recommendations was presented to the Board of Visitors that December. (UVA Today article from that time)

One of two images with the general results of the review of progress made toward implementation of the Margolis Healy report (Credit: University of Virginia)

An audit plan approved by the Board of Visitors in June 2021 called for a status update on what’s happened since. 

“Sometimes audits scare people, especially if it’s like the [Internal Revenue Service] or something like that,” said Tim Longo, UVA’s Associate Vice President for Safety and Security and Chief of Police. “But audits are about holding people accountable and reminding us of what we committed to and what we promised we’d do.”

The Margolis Healy report had six recommendations, and only two of them are considered fully implemented. 

“When Margolis & Healy came, it’s important to remember why they came,” Longo said. “It is become something really bad happened in our community and what we found along the way that were things that were broken. Systems got broken. Communication was broken. Integration was broken. Cooperation was broken, amongst critical public safety systems and the damage will outlive all of us in this room.” 

One of the implemented items is Longo’s new position which he said helped created a central command structure for UVa’s police department, the emergency management department, threat assessments, and security cameras. 

“What the audit did was remind us that there’s just a couple of things we haven’t done yet,” Longo said. “One of the things we haven’t done yet in the police department is create a strategic plan around community engagement. We’ve put a lieutenant in charge of community engagement and promoted a sergeant into that rank. We hired a student, a community engagement person. We hired a diversity officer. But we didn’t create the plan.” 

Longo said the plan needs to be completed “yesterday” but he hopes it will be done by the end of the academic year. 

Longo said another item waiting to happen is the transfer of fire safety responsibility and the Medical Center’s emergency management functions to his office. 

The second of two images with the general results of the review of progress made toward implementation of the Margolis Healy report 

The full results of the audit were not listed in the packet, and I have requested a copy. Members of the committee had the chance to ask questions. Thomas A. DePasquale is in his second term.

“Do you feel there’s a good implementation between us and the city now?” DePasquale asked. “There was almost no implementation between us and the city during the crisis. Where are we on that?”

“Mr. Chairman, I believe that in the last couple of years the communications between the police departments has been far more robust than it had been in two or three previous years,” Longo said. “Historically the communication has always been great between the city, the county, and the University across the governing bodies and the law enforcement agencies. That’s beginning to improve greatly.”

Longo pointed to the recent decision by Albemarle County to create a separate emergency management division within the Fire Rescue Department. 

The University of Virginia Police Department currently has 19 people in queue to become officers, which Longo attributed to recent pay increases for officers. 

“I think we’ve just dropped down below double digits,” Longo said. “It’s been a long, long time since we’ve been there.” 

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 September 16, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

Albemarle Fire Rescue wants you to prepare for emergencies

September is National Preparedness Month, and Albemarle’s Deputy Fire Chief for Emergency Management wants you to create a plan for times when normality is disrupted.

“Emergency management is something that we have focused on for a number of years but lately we have really been kind of expanding our broadening that focus,” said Deputy Chief John Oprandy said. “What emergency management focuses on for the whole county government and the community is a preparedness for all types of hazards.”

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Charlottesville seeking input on police chief search

How much experience should the next Charlottesville Police Chief have? What leadership qualities would you like to see? What should the police department leader’s top priority be?

Those are some of the questions in a survey that the firm POLIHIRE is conducting as part of their contract to conduct a search for the next chief. The survey is open through August 15 and is available in English and Spanish. (fill out the survey)

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Albemarle Supervisors approves rental of former J.C. Penney as public safety operations center

David Puckett, the Deputy Chief of Operations at Albemarle Fire Rescue, reminded Supervisors that they have hired several personnel in recent years to expand capacity. 

“While the vast majority of those positions are out in the field directly providing service there are a number of administrative positions added to make sure we could successfully on-board, train, and support those personnel long-term.” Puckett said. 

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Charlottesville Fire Department to deploy more devices on medical calls

Some vehicles used by the Charlottesville Fire Department on medical calls will soon carry additional devices intended to increase the chances of a patient surviving a cardiac arrest. 

The Department secured $64,000 from a Community Development Block Grant in the last fiscal year to purchase four chest compression devices to assist in the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They’ll be placed on two fire engines and two ambulances.

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Efforts made to crack down on distracted drivers on U.S. 29

Vehicular crashes are up on Virginia roads this year and late last month area law enforcement agencies teamed up on to enforce speeding and distracted driving laws on U.S. 29. On July 21, Albemarle County Police, Charlottesville Police, and the University of Virginia police were out in force from the Greene County border to the Nelson County line. 

“We usually see at least 700,000 vehicles daily on that stretch of roadway,” said Albemarle Master Police Officer Kate Kane. “Consequently it adds up to a lot of crashes unfortunately.” 

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Council briefed on potential usage of ARPA funds 

Charlottesville has now received all of the $19.6 million in funding it will receive from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act fund. Interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers gave Council an update at their meeting on July 18.

“It’s been a big help for local government in terms of recovery from the impact of the pandemic,” Rogers said.

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Louisa Supervisors briefed on Regional Hazardous Mitigation Plan, push back on incomplete data

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission continues work on a document that’s intended to coordinate regional responses to natural disasters and other calamities. Ian Baxter of the TJPDC presented to the Louisa Board of Supervisors last week. (read the draft plan)

“So the plan itself is essentially to prepare for natural disasters,” Baxter said. “We’re lookint to reduce loss of life, property damage, and disruption of commerce. I think I should reiterate before I get into the weeds, so we’re serving the six localities that comprise the Planning District.” 

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Albemarle Fire Rescue hires Charlottesville veteran for new deputy chief 

There’s a new deputy chief of community risk and resilience at Albemarle County Fire Rescue. Emily Pelliccia was named to the position earlier this month after serving 28 years with the Charlottesville Fire Department. 

“Deputy Chief Pelliccia has a proven track record of success in establishing collaborative relationships with government officials, businesses, and community members that will be vital as our department grows to meet the needs and challenges of the developing community we serve,” said Albemarle County Fire Rescue Chief Dan Eggleston in a news release. 

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Brackney sues the city of Charlottesville, other parties

Former Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney has filed a lawsuit in federal court against multiple parties alleging that, among other things, the city of Charlottesville acted unlawfully when former City Manager Chip Boyles fired her last September 1. She’s seeking ten million dollar in damages. (read the suit and its exhibits)

In addition to Boyles, Brackney’s complaint in the Western District of Virginia also includes: former city Communications Director Brian Wheeler; city attorney Lisa Robertson; acting police chief Latroy “Tito” Durrette; former assistant police chief James Mooney; current Councilors Sena Magill and Lloyd Snook, former Councilor Heather Hill, and former Police Civilian Review Board chair Bellamy Brown. 

She also named Mike Wells of the Police Benevolent Association as a defendant. 

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