Charlottesville police chief candidates face questions during forum

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 11:50 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - On Monday, Nov. 28, the three finalists for Charlottesville police chief sat down for a two-hour panel, answering questions from the Police Civilian Review Board.

The three candidates - Latroy “Tito” Durrette, Easton McDonald, and Michael Kochis - were all asked about how they would work to solve gun violence, department understaffing, and homelessness.

One question that was not raised during the candidate forum concerned McDonald’s past: In 2014, he mistook his 16-year-old daughter for an intruder and shot her. While he was driving her to the hospital for care, they got into a crash.

City Manager Michael Rogers says he felt the incident did not need to be brought up during the forum.

“For that to happen, and then for him to have an accident, you know, on the way to the hospital that resulted in injuries and then the loss of his daughter, that’s not something that he was criminally liable for. And it doesn’t bear on his judgment at all. So, I don’t think it should have been a subject,” Rogers said.

Rogers will make the final recommendation for police chief, but City Council has to vote to approve it.

All candidates said they would look at the data when addressing gun violence.

“Gun violence is one of many where there’s a greater picture, and then it takes all of us to sit down at the table, put our heads together with our nose to the ground, and really root out how to address that,” Acting Police Chief Durrette said.

The candidates also took turns addressing other important issues, like homelessness in the city.

“I had the privilege today to do a ride-along, for probably about an hour and a half, and during that time there were several calls that were coming in from citizens about people laying in front of their stores or someone who’s laying down, possibly unconscious. So I would first - dealing with my resources - assign officers, either one or two officers based on the number of houseless persons, permanently that is what they’re assigned to,” McDonald said.

Later, Kochis answered a question about his bias.

“I’m never going to know what it’s like to be a Black man. I’m just not. There are conversations that Major McDonald has to have, talks with his teenager before they drive, that I don’t have to have with mine. I get it, OK, but the folks who live in those communities, communities that are most affected by gun crime, they have just much of a right to peace and tranquility that I do,” Kochis said.

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