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Civilian Review Board Member Speaks Out Following Criticism Toward Group

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Vehicles with the Charlottesville Police Department Vehicles with the Charlottesville Police Department
Board member Don Gathers Board member Don Gathers
Charlottesville Sheriff James Brown Charlottesville Sheriff James Brown
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

A member of the Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board says his group is not to blame for police retention issues.

Don Gathers says recent overall criticism from Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney is unfair.

This comes as the city's sheriff is now stepping into the spotlight to plead with the community to not turn its back on the men and women in blue. In a Facebook post, Charlottesville Sheriff James Brown urges the community to give police a chance.

"People basically will look at those issues and say this is how all officers are, and that's not the case," he said.

Those issues span the country, from officer-involved fatal shootings to corruption. But in Charlottesville, there's also the fallout from a summer of white supremacist rallies that occurred in 2017.

In a Daily Progress article, Chief Brackney cites vocal and biased Civilian Review Board members as one of several reasons the department is down nearly a dozen officers with vacancies becoming harder to fill.

"I don't think that that can be the case,” Don Gathers, who’s on the board, said. “I pray that's not the case."

Gathers says the overall criticism is unfair. He says there's still a high level of tension between the community and police, but he adds that it's starting to ease.

"I don't think that anyone should look at it as an antagonistic relationship,” Gathers said. “We're doing our work and we're doing it the proper way."

Gathers says it's a two-way street when it comes to this relationship, but you also can't deny what happened - or did not happen - that August day.

"We've got to figure it out,” Gathers said. “We just got to figure it out, how to co-exist and how to do so in a way that's not causing friction."

The next Civilian Review Board meeting is set for January 8 at 6:30 p.m. at CitySpace.

Sheriff Brown also says his department was able to hire a deputy in November, but is now down a deputy. He hopes to fill that position early this year.

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