The Libertarian candidate for governor wants liquor law enforcement to be moved to local jurisdictions. This call for a power shift comes as a state senator is preparing to re-introduce a similar proposal in the next General Assembly session.
This push for change comes after a University of Virginia student was wrongfully arrested by undercover Alcoholic Beverage Control agents in April. The advocates say a reallocation of responsibility could prevent another aggressive ABC raid.
The arrest of UVA student Elizabeth Daly after a raid that started when ABC agents mistook water for beer has sparked a lot of controversy. Now, people are speaking out about legal change.
"A professionalized police service that has built trust with the community is in a much better position to determine how best to use scarce resources on keeping the public safe," said Robert Sarvis, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate.
Sarvis stopped in Charlottesville Monday to talk about his three-prong plan aimed at moving enforcement of ABC laws.
"I think that local law enforcement and state police are in a much better position to make those determinations and to be somewhat proportional," said Sarvis.
State Senator Creigh Deeds has been pushing a similar message for months. He introduced a resolution this past General Assembly session to put state police in charge of all law enforcement agencies - including ABC.
"What I'd like to see happen are separate divisions set up within the state police and have lieutenants and colonels in charge of those but all report to the state police firm," said Deeds.
Both Sarvis and Deeds feel action is necessary to produce more efficient and effective law enforcement in the commonwealth.
"If we do these three things, we will restore the trust between the community and the law enforcement that protects them," said Sarvis.
Both men also say their proposals for a shift in law enforcement power will save costs. Deeds plans to re-introduce his resolution in the next General Assembly session.
STATEMENT BY ROBERT SARVIS, LIBERTARIAN FOR Va. GOV.:
As you know, on April 11, 2013, an incident took place that has shaken the Charlottesville community and its relationship with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
In that incident, plain clothes officers aggressively approached three young women they suspected of buying alcoholic beverages. In fact, they had not done so, but even if they had, the aggressive tactics would have been unreasonable in relation to the violation.
This is emblematic of a greater problem, which is the increasing aggressiveness of law-enforcement tactics. It's not enough to apologize. It's time for change that should have happened long ago.
I propose that we privatize all liquor sales. Private liquor stores who face the loss of their liquor licenses have an incentive to enforce the law.
I propose that we move all enforcement of ABC laws to local law enforcement and state police. Local officials can determine the appropriate level of enforcement for their communities.
I propose that we begin to address the increasing militarization of police tactics, which undermine good relations between communities and law enforcement.
If we make these changes, we can help ensure another incident like this doesn't happen again, and that Virginia remains open-minded and open for business.
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