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Charlottesville City Manager fires Police Chief RaShall Brackney

Brackney was appointed as Chief of Police in Charlottesville in June 2018

The results of a survey conducted by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association showed that a majority of the Charlottesville Police Department thought the department lacked leadership.
The results of a survey conducted by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association showed that a majority of the Charlottesville Police Department thought the department lacked leadership.

Charlottesville City Manager Chip Boyles announced Wednesday that Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney’s employment contract has been terminated. This termination comes a week after the results of a survey conducted by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association showed that a majority of the Charlottesville Police Department thought the department lacked leadership, and officers did not feel they had a voice. 

Out of the 100 officers in the department, 64 responded to the survey. According to the survey, 71 percent of respondents did not feel supported by their leaders. Since October, 18 police officers and 32 staff members have left the department. 

In response to the survey, the City issued a press release Aug. 20 criticizing officers in the department for misconduct and inappropriate behavior. Among others, the release described officers “circulating nude videos of females and themselves” and “videotaping children of SWAT members detonating explosives, and firing department-issued semiautomatic weapons at unauthorized training events.”

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she received the announcement of Brackney’s termination at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, just hours before the announcement was released to the public. Walker said in a Facebook Live video that evening that there was no reason for Brackney to be fired. 

“I supported Dr. Brackney because she is as committed to breaking down these racist systems as I am,” Walker said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. 

City Councilor Lloyd Snook told Charlottesville Tomorrow that he was not aware ahead of time that Brackney would be terminated. Terminating Brackney is within Boyle’s authority as city manager. 

“Chip Boyles did not tell us ahead of time what he was doing,” Snook said. “He told us what kinds of things he was thinking about. At no point did councilors say to him ‘fire her.’”

Before her appointment to chief of police in June 2018, Brackney served for 30 years with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and was the former chief of police at George Washington University. According to the Charlottesville Police Department website, Brackney is an expert in restorative justice practices, community-police relations and harm reduction.

Brackney is on administrative leave for 90 days, or through November 30, 2021. Major James Mooney, assistant chief of CPD, will stay with the department until a new chief is hired but does not intend to run for the position. Mooney announced his intent to retire from his position as assistant chief earlier this week.

A nationwide search for the next Charlottesville police chief will begin immediately.

"In order to dismantle systemic racism and eliminate police violence and misconduct in Charlottesville, we need a leader who is not only knowledgeable in that work, but also is effective building collaborative relationships with the community, the department, and the team at City Hall,” Boyles said. “While very good work and progress has been made, I ultimately decided new leadership was required to continue the City’s progress towards building a new climate and culture within the department.”

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