Charlottesville, Albemarle Police Chiefs Discuss ABC Arrest

Posted: Updated: Apr 03, 2015 05:05 PM
Chief Tim Longo and Col. Steve Sellers Chief Tim Longo and Col. Steve Sellers
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo and Albemarle County Police Colonel Steve Sellers say what happened on the Corner with agents from the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) reflects on every one of their officers too.

Neither city nor county police officers took part in the arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson, but both police departments are caught in the crosshairs of the fallout.

The arrest of 20-year-old Johnson has eroded some of the trust between police officers and the Charlottesville - Albemarle community.

“These students, this campus, this place has been through a lot in the past couple of months," Chief Longo said.

“We have worked so hard, collectively, both of our agencies to build community trust," said Col. Sellers.

Both men say it's time for law enforcement to figure out ways to improve relations with the African-American community, and ask what could have been done differently? Another issue is a matter of experience in general: the departments are hiring young people - men and women in their 20s -who just simply don't have much life experience.

"Let's face it, we hire human beings to do this work and human beings are imperfect and they will make mistakes," Longo admitted.

"We acknowledge the history, we acknowledge the injustices that occur in the past and you have to and you build on those," Sellers said.

The officers involved with the controversial arrest outside Trinity Irish Pub are with Virginia's ABC, and not from the city or county. The incident did unfold in the city, and in plain sight on a very busy Saint Patrick's Day: University Police and Charlottesville Police had officers on the Corner for crowd-control following Johnson's arrest.

"Every time they get up, every single event as tragic as it is, these students, they stand back up and continue with their lives," Longo

Both chiefs say they can't do their jobs without community trust, and will earn it back.

"We have a responsibility to protect these students while they're here at UVA and to protect our community," Sellers

Both departments are shifting to regional policing, a system of putting the same officers in the same area to build relationships in a specific area.

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