Legislative Measures Follow April ABC Fiasco - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Legislative Measures Follow April ABC Fiasco

Posted: Updated: 1/15/2014 6:04:48 PM

After last April's incident where armed ABC agents swept down on three University of Virginia students who'd done nothing worse than buy sparkling water at Barracks Road it seemed likely that the political pendulum would swing against the agency once the General Assembly convened.

Wednesday, two measures from 57th District Delegate David Toscano (D) are proof. Toscano joins a list of lawmakers who want to make sure what happened last spring never happens again.

"I think it's pretty clear that we want to tell the ABC that we didn't like what they did, and they shouldn't do it again," Toscano said.

It's the incident that marred Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control - a case of mistaken identity, over a case of sparkling water, where three UVA students on a late-night grocery run found themselves on the wrong end of a gun. It hit home for Toscano, and he wants to see some changes.

"It's really inappropriate for ABC to be using armed force to enforce underage possession," Toscano said.

Through new legislation, Toscano wants to prevent ABC special agents from using or threatening deadly force during an underage possession investigation.

"You have to enforce the laws, but you don't have to enforce them the way they did that day," Toscano said.

He joins a long list of lawmakers who want to see changes at ABC, from transforming the department's leadership structure to 25th District Delegate Steve Landes' (R) bill to study whether ABC needs its own enforcement unit at all.

"A lot of people expressed concern about how ABC proceeded - what they did, what they didn't do," Landes said.

But despite concern, Landes is skeptical of Toscano's proposal.

"They have to use deadly force sometimes, so we have to be careful and I think tread lightly when we're moving in that direction," Landes said.

Toscano says it would be up to ABC how it would develop new firearms policies but he maintains something should be done.

"We want to send a clear message that this is not going to be tolerated," he said.

Virginia ABC says it does not comment on proposed legislation.

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