Nearly ten months since former Charlottesville police chief RaShall Brackney was fired by former City Manager Chip Boyles, the city is seeking a permanent replacement. On Friday, the city issued a request for proposals for a firm to conduct an executive search.
“The City is seeking a consultant to assist the City Manager through the process of hiring a new Chief of Police who embodies the principles of 21st Century Policing and has an anti-racist focus,” reads the request for proposals.
At least one in ten American adults will suffer a depressive illness every year, according to information from the National Institute of Mental Health. That information was cited at City Council’s May 2, 2022 work session.
Officials with the Emergency Communications Center for Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia briefed the Council on efforts to ensure that people experiencing mental health crises are not met with deadly force by public safety officers. (view the presentation)
“We do receive around a quarter of a million calls per year here in the Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle Emergency Communication Center,” said Josh Powell, the support services manager for the ECC.
Staffing shortages in the Charlottesville Police Department have led to a decision to change responses to some service calls. According to a release sent out yesterday, people will need to fill out an online form for several non-emergency requests including annoying phone calls, littering, lost property, suspicious activity, and vandalism. Some forms of larceny and fraud will also need to be reported online rather than through a phone call.
“Officers will continue to respond to emergency calls and crimes in progress,” reads the release. “As it relates specifically to past larcenies, officers will still respond in person to larcenies of firearms and vehicles.”
Later this week, a task force appointed by City Council to make recommendations for how federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are spent will meet. Earlier this month, Council agreed to reallocate money a previous task force had opted to spend on a sidewalk on Franklin Street in Belmont, but less than staff had suggested. (staff report)
Erin Atak is the city’s grants coordinator.
“On January 14, 2021, Charlottesville was found to be noncompliant for the second consecutive year with CDBG requirements,” Atak said. “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] noted that Charlottesville’s lack of spending performance was an issue.”
In the early part of the City Council meeting, Fire Chief Hezedean Smith has a long conversation with the five-elected officials. Smith has been in the position since December 2020 and he wanted to reflect on the time so far.
“There’s been a lot of tragedy within our community and fortunately our firefighters, they remain committed in terms of serving the community to their fullest, in spite of COVID and in spite of all the other challenges that they face,” Smith said.
Last week, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors has promoted Sean Reeves to be the next police chief in the county. Reeves began his career in Albemarle County as a patrol officer in 2001 and currently holds the rank of Major. He will succeed Ron Lantz who retires at the end of February.
“Major Reeves has played a pivotal role in several ACPD priority projects, including creating the cybercrimes unit, developing a community coalition around mental health crisis response, advancing the body-worn camera program, and serving as the lead ACPD personnel in the County’s incident management teams for COVID-19, the At Ready Statue Removal, and the events of August 12,” reads the press release.
A crash in the 900 block of Fifth Street Extended late Saturday night has killed a Richmond woman, according to a report from CBS19 News. That’s prompted the group Livable Cville to call on Charlottesville City Hall to move forward with planned solutions. A series of fatalities in 2020 led to a petition drive that led to a conversation on City Council that November of that year at which traffic engineer Brennan Duncan offered several recommendations including lowering the speed limit. Livable Cities wants to know why none of them have been implemented.
Charlottesville Fire Chief Hezedean Smith has been on the job nearly ten months and he had the opportunity Monday to talk about the department as well as to explain changes to the way the fire department dispatches ambulances. Earlier this month, representatives from the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad critiqued the new “proximity dispatch” system. (Story from September 8, 2021)
“I’m appreciative of the many years of contributions from CARS for over 60 years and for our Fire Department for over 165 years and agree that working together collaboratively, we’ll be able to create a model system framework in this region based on 21st century concepts and strategies,” Smith said.
The Charlottesville Fire Department has released its annual report for the fiscal year that ended on June 2021. In the past year there is a new chief in Hezedean Smith, recruited 22 new firefighters, and boosted work in community risk reduction. There are 114 total employees in the fire department, including six civilians. There were 5,717 calls for service, with 2,105 of those for fire calls and 3,612 medical calls.
Since January, Sentry Force Security has held a contract to patrol properties owned and operated by the Charlottesville Housing and Redevelopment Authority. President Tim Sansone addressed the CHRA Board of Commissioners at their meeting at matters from the public and said there has been an increase in illegal activities and that Sentry Force personnel have been coordinating with the Charlottesville Police Department.
“I understand there’s been some dialogue or conversations as far as the scope of our services and the contract that we have with CRHA,” Sansone said. “I think everyone would agree or know that the properties that we’re here to patrol and provide services with are definitely in need of some type of security service or coverage which is what we are providing.”