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Gov. McAuliffe Accepts ABC Enforcement Review Panel Recommendations

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Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's liquor agency says Gov. Terry McAuliffe has accepted all recommendations made by the task force established after the arrest of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson. 

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Department said Friday that it's implementing the changes suggested by the panel appointed by McAuliffe after Johnson's arrest last March.

Video and photos of Johnson bleeding from the head while being pinned down by ABC agents were widely distributed on social media.

A state police investigation concluded that the agents were not unduly aggressive.

In September, McAuliffe's panel recommended ABC emphasize regulatory activities, such as licensing compliance, over law enforcement but declined to strip the agency of its arrest powers. It also suggested additional training and steps to improve collaboration between the ABC and colleges.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

RICHMOND – Today, Gov. Terry McAuliffe accepted all recommendations set forth by the Virginia ABC Enforcement Expert Review Panel, which was assembled by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran in accordance with Executive Order 40. The panel was charged with examining issues involving the mission, structure, policies and training of Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) Bureau of Law Enforcement and recommending tangible improvements.

“Executive Order 40 put in place important reforms that are improving law enforcement at Virginia ABC. I thank the Virginia ABC Enforcement Expert Review Panel for working collaboratively to put forward additional suggestions to improve ABC Law Enforcement for all of our Commonwealth’s citizens and businesses. I have directed ABC to move forward with implementing all of the panel’s recommendations and directed Secretary Moran to make sure the regular reporting from ABC demonstrates continued improvement,” said Gov. McAuliffe.

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 licensed establishments 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.

“The Governor has instructed us to put these recommendations into practice, and Virginia ABC is committed to operating under these guiding principles,” said ABC Chief Operating Officer Travis Hill. “Several of the recommendations, including mandated training for all ABC law enforcement personnel and accreditation through the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC), have already been accomplished, while other initiatives are well underway. Virginia ABC is dedicated to implementing the remaining recommendations expeditiously and providing quarterly reports that measure our progress and continued commitment to maintaining the highest level of professionalism and accountability.”

The 20-person expert review panel consisted of representatives of law enforcement agencies, commonwealth’s attorneys, ABC-licensed establishments, alcohol education and prevention groups, state agency heads, a university student council president and other relevant stakeholder groups.

“I thank each and every panel member for their exceptional contribution to this study, whose recommendations will help to strengthen and improve public safety for Virginians across the state,” said Secretary Moran. “Virginia ABC’s expertise in alcoholic beverage control laws and enforcement is an asset to our communities, and I look forward to assisting the agency in its efforts to achieve the milestones outlined by the panel, including a renewed focus on regulatory issues, collaboration with local law enforcement, increased staffing and assisting Virginia’s thousands of licensees.”

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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