Charlottesville explains Virginia State Police presence at Defund the Police Block Party
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville city leaders are now explaining how Virginia State Police came to be at last weekend’s Defund The Police Block Party.
A joint statement says troopers were invited by UVA Police Chief Tim Longo, who was in charge of the operation due to the event beginning on grounds.
Due to the chance the event could spill into nearby public streets, Charlottesville police were part of that unified response and a few city vehicles were provided for shared use.
Neither Police Chief Rashall Brackney or City Manager Tarron Richardson were aware of the use of city vehicles, nor did they know how many VSP officers would be on site.
City leaders say they regret not having this information available sooner.
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A joint Statement from the Charlottesville City Council, Charlottesville City Manager, and Charlottesville Chief of Police
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 18, 2020
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On Saturday, June 13, 2020, a demonstration called the Defund the Police Block Party began at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena located in Albemarle County. The block party then marched into the City of Charlottesville where attendees exercised their First Amendment rights.
Based upon the projected number of attendees, the policy group, which is comprised of the University of Virginia (Jennifer Davis), City of Charlottesville (Dr. Tarron Richardson) and Albemarle County (Jeff Richardson), entered into a Unified Command Agreement. Since the organizers advertised that this event would commence at the John Paul Jones Arena, the University of Virginia under the direction of Associate Vice President of Safety and Security and Chief of Police Timothy Longo assumed the lead in planning this effort and invited the Virginia State Police to provide additional law enforcement resources in case an emergency occurred.
Given the mobile nature of recent local and national demonstrations, it was clear this event could spill into nearby public streets and block public intersections. Additionally, those who would want to silence or challenge our community’s calls for reform are ever-present and becoming more visible in Charlottesville. In order to ensure the safety and well-being of those participating in this event, the Charlottesville Police Department joined the Unified Command and played a major role in both operations and logistics. We are committed to ensuring that we do everything in our power to prevent a tragedy similar to the one that occurred in August of 2017.
Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney represented the City as a Liaison Officer and Captain Joseph Hatter served as the City’s Incident Commander. Based on the nature of the Unified Command structure, we were aware the Virginia State Police would be present; however, we did not initiate this particular request and were not fully aware of the number of officers who would be present.
A few of our City vehicles were made available for shared use by the participating agencies. For example, some Facilities Maintenance vehicles were given temporary Charlottesville Police markings and driven by Virginia State Police officers. The Virginia State Police received permission to drive the vehicles from a Charlottesville Police Department officer responsible for transportation and logistics. Neither Chief Brackney nor Dr. Richardson was aware of the specifics for this operational decision when she was asked to comment at Monday’s City Council meeting.
As a City, we recognize the importance of sharing accurate information about public safety matters. We understand in order for our citizens to trust us it is essential for us to have the answers to these very basic questions. We understand there is a tremendous amount of work for us to do in order for us to earn your trust. We also understand inaccurate or incomplete information will only prevent the relationships we wish to build from ever coming to fruition. We regret that a more detailed explanation of the City’s response was not available at the City Council meeting on Monday.