CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As the country grapples with the police-involved deaths of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta and George Floyd in Minneapolis, the focus on how officers do their jobs, especially when it comes to using force, has erupted across the nation.
Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney denounced the death of Floyd as, “a senseless murder of an unarmed black man," and is equally outraged at the death of Brooks.
“How policing may impact - particularly, disproportionately - minority communities, and as honest as we can just say, let’s just say Black and Brown communities," Brackney said.
The police chief pointed to measures of transparency as one way to begin to solve that problem: “I’ve been intentional about posting our use of force here in Charlottesville, that we’ve used for the last two years,” Brackney said.
The most recent report published in May lists 17 occasions in 2019 when officers used force in Charlottesville. The report breaks down the uses of force into several types, including deadly and physical. It notes officers in the city used physical force 11 times and never employed deadly force.
“You can never guarantee an outcome. You can do everything right, and that outcome be negative, but what we can guarantee is that we get as much training and engagement in place that we minimize that,” Brackney said.
As for training, officers attend Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy where she says they spend about 12 weeks in the academy.
“When they come back here specifically to Charlottesville, they spend about another month in additional training and support they have here and then they go into field training for three months," Brackney said.
After the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, deescalation techniques become top of mind, with many asking why the officer employed deadly force. Chief Brackney says she enforces the notion that deescalation starts with the officer.
“You know that once you get there, the person is already in an escalated state, whatever that response may be, so your job is not to add your emotions to the variable," she said.
The Civilian Review Board, which will provide oversight over the Charlottesville Police Department, has its final member in place, but Brackney says no one has answered her questions about the necessity of such a board in the city.
“Oversight in any agency though, should be fair, should be legitimate, should be well trained, well informed on the issues and understand what their mission is," she said.
Brackney says once her questions about why the board was put in place and what problem they’re attempting to solve are answered, she can help put a structure in place so everyone can be successful in their goals.