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Central Virginia Learning Exchange Examines State of Police-Community Relations

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People talking at the Central Virginia Learning Exchange. People talking at the Central Virginia Learning Exchange.

The University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy hosted the first Central Virginia Learning Exchange (CVLE) on Saturday, Dec. 1.

The CVLE was centered around a select group of law enforcement officers, government officials, UVA students, as well as individuals from central Virginia who wish to better the relationship between the community and law enforcement.

Many officers say that while instances of police brutality are spotlighted, the positive interactions may go unnoticed in the community.

“Oftentimes when we think about situations that take place, we see them as being negative but I think there are tremendous opportunities to kind of learn and to grow." says Brain Williams, the associate professor of public policy at the Batten School.

"The community and law enforcement really do engage each other positively, so what I’ve seen is that the things that tend to be highlighted are those things that are much more negative." said Chief of Police RaShall Brackney.

Through facilitated discussions, the CVLE enhanced understanding, improved communication, and encouraged a better working relationship between the Charlottesville police and the community.

According to Brian Moran, secretary for public safety and homeland security for the state of Virginia, "They recognize that police are people too, you know, in the traumatic event that happens in the community has an impact on the community and the members of the community but also the police, so I think it's an understanding that has to occur between both sides."

Chief Brackney says that both officers and civilians have room for improvement when it comes to building positive relationships.

"There should be a willingness on both sides to say ‘we want to move from where we are to some place better’, and if it doesn't have that willingness on either side or if there's one party that decides to disengage, we will never be in a place where we have a healthy relationship."

Organizers say they hope the CVLE workshop was eye-opening for everyone involved.