CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - When it comes to planning for crowds of people in Downtown Charlottesville this weekend, police chief RaShall Brackney has been at the forefront ever since she was sworn-in back in June. While handling other cases and getting acquainted to Charlottesville, Brackney has also been trying to stay one step ahead of the biggest challenge of her career.

Brackney has been open to criticisms about last year’s handling of the violence in the city and admits that police need to do much better this time around. This has led to dramatically increased security measures unlike Charlottesville have ever seen, which includes intense security checks downtown and more than 1,000 law enforcement officials in the area.

“It is an enormous responsibility based on the fact that we did not live up to expectations [last year],” Brackney said.

Protecting vulnerable communities of color is nothing new to Brackney, whose 30 years of law enforcement in Pittsburgh has prepared her for this weekend. Brackney credits her exposure from anything between G-20 events to sports championship parades for preparing her for this weekend.

“Part of the planning from the beginning was that we could not focus on a single point,” Brackney said. “Although the focus is downtown area, we would make ourselves more vulnerable if we didn’t think about those softer targets on the outside.”

In terms of what to expect, Brackney understands that Sunday is probably going to be the focal point, but Saturday’s events are not lost of her either.

“Saturday makes me pause around those scheduled events that may take on a life of their own because there is no permitting process,” Brackney said. “We understand that there’s more value in being in Charlottesville on Sunday...particularly during the time the helicopter crashed and the officers lost their lives as well as Heather Heyer.” 

Even after months of planning for every outcome, there are still things that worry Brackney. With Charlottesville now on a national platform, Brackney worries about individuals who crave that spotlight and want to remain relevant.

“It’s that individual who is flying underneath all of our radars who has some intent that keeps me up at night,” Brackney said. “What about those persons who are thinking differently than I am?”

The chief says the goal from this point forward is to cope with the new reality formed from last year’s events and hope to find a balance.