Charlottesville City Responds to Allegations of Issues in Police Force
The City of Charlottesville is responding to allegations of issues within its police force.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The City of Charlottesville is responding to allegations of issues within its police force.
On Thursday, January 3, NBC29 reported that Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding had ideas to help improve “turmoil” within the Charlottesville Police Department and combat the increase in departing officers. His suggestions stemmed from complaints he reportedly heard from city officers.
On Friday, Interim City Manager Mike Murphy said he has not heard any concerns about issues within the department. When asked about pay and resources for officers, he says it is something for which he is advocating. Now, he's also trying to clear the air over Harding's statements.
"This is not the spirit of partnership or collaboration that is deserved or should be expected.
Sheriff Harding suggested that Murphy bring in an outside consultant team so officers can give statements to independent assessors about the state of their department.
Murphy said he doesn't know what problems Harding is referring to and welcomes him to share them with him directly. He said the city has not decided to bring in an outside consultant at this time, but has recommended pay raises for city officers.
“I’ve recommended to council that the manager suggested budget for 2020, which begins in six months on July 1, I’m planning on a 9 percent increase for all sworn staff,” Murphy said.
Murphy added that he held Sheriff Harding in high regard during the 24 years they worked together. Harding spent decades of his career moving up the ranks in the CPD.
“Chief Brackney joined the City of Charlottesville at a time when the community, City Council, and city manager were looking for a change.”
Since 2016, the CPD has had four different people at the helm, including current CPD Chief RaShall Brackney. He claims some of the departures could be caused by low pay and the fallout of the Unite the Right rally.
“The past year or two in our city has been difficult and we have found ourselves in a position where many officers are choosing to leave the agency,” Murphy said.
Murphy also addressed concerns brought up regarding the Police Civilian Review Board, which comes in the wake of Chief Brackney telling the Daily Progress that vocal board members are one of the many reasons vacancies are becoming harder to fill.
"The Civilian Review Board is appointed by council, they decide to charge these citizens with charting the course for a future group at a time when transparency was desperately needed," Murphy said.
Currently, the CPD has roughly 18 to 20 positions to fill in on the force, which Murphy said is due to lower pay and issues with take-home vehicles.
"Climate and the treatment of officers is a concern we must acknowledge and find pathways forward," Murphy said.
When asked if Murphy plans to initiate a conversation with Harding, he said he sees Harding regularly and he's sure they'll talk in the near future.