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ABC Review Panel Delivers Final Report on Martese Johnson ABC Arrest

Posted: Updated: Oct 06, 2015 03:07 PM
Martese Johnson and attorney Daniel Watkins Martese Johnson and attorney Daniel Watkins
Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

The panel entrusted with reviewing the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control’s enforcement arm has finalized its recommendations.

The Virginia ABC Enforcement Expert Review Panel, which was assembled by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran following an executive order by Governor McAuliffe, convened following the controversial arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson along the university corner in March.

Police, state political leaders and others now recommend the ABC focus on licensee regulation opposed to street level enforcement.

The group also suggests additional training and an increase in special agents monitoring licensee environments.

The full report can be viewed on Virginia ABC’s website at https://www.abc.virginia.gov/about/expert-review-panel-materials.


News Release from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control:

RICHMOND – The Virginia ABC Enforcement Expert Review Panel, assembled by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran in accordance with Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Order Number Forty, has delivered its final report and recommendations to the governor more than six weeks in advance of the Nov. 1 due date.

Secretary Moran was asked to convene a panel of representatives to examine issues involving the mission, structure, policies and training of Virginia ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement following the highly publicized March 18 arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson by ABC special agents in Charlottesville.

“I applaud the Enforcement Expert Review Panel members for expediting completion of the report in accordance with Executive Order Forty, and thank them for their cooperation, insight and diligence,” said Gov. McAuliffe. “I look forward to reviewing the adopted recommendations and will determine what actions should be taken to ensure Virginia ABC, an agency charged with public safety, is doing all it can to keep Virginia’s families and communities safe.”

The 20-person panel consisted of representatives of law enforcement agencies, Commonwealth’s attorneys, ABC-licensed establishments, alcohol education and prevention groups, the Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the University of Virginia student council president and others representing relevant stakeholder groups.

The panel met for several hours on four occasions—May 4, June 1, July 8 and Aug. 26. Final recommendations from the panel include a renewed focus on ABC licensee regulatory matters rather than street-level enforcement, as well as additional training and increased staffing of ABC special agents to monitor licensee environments and keep pace with industry growth. Additional recommendations include ABC’s accreditation through a state or national law enforcement accrediting body, the establishment of stronger relationships among local and campus law enforcement, and implementation of body-worn cameras during enforcement activities. The panel also suggested quarterly reports demonstrating progress toward the adopted recommendations.

“I deeply appreciate the thoughtful and candid discussions from expert review panel members that led to the recommendations outlined in this report,” said Secretary Moran. “I thank each and every panel member for their exceptional contribution to this study, which is reflected in the strong proposals put forward for the Governor’s consideration,” he said.

The full report can be viewed on Virginia ABC’s website at https://www.abc.virginia.gov/about/expert-review-panel-materials.

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