City Council voted unanimously Monday to confirm Michael Kochis as the new chief of police for the City of Charlottesville. Kochis was selected by acting city manager Michael Rogers out of three potential candidates to fill the position. Kochis currently serves as chief of police in Warrenton and will take over for acting chief Latroy Durrette beginning Jan. 16.
The search for a new chief of police began in May 2022 and has included several rounds of interviews and a public forum hosted by the Police Civilian Oversight Board conducted Nov. 28, where candidates answered questions about issues important to constituents.
According to Rogers, Kochis stood out from the start as a strong candidate. He said Kochis received positive reviews from the leader of the Black Lives Matter organization in Warrenton and the Baptist Church.
“It comes back glowing reports in terms of his approachability, his engagement, and commitment to the community, his steadfast approach to solving problems and building partnerships with the community,” Rogers said.
Rogers also thanked current acting Durrette for his service and for bringing stability to the Police Department during his tenure.
Council then moved to discuss pending updates to the operating procedures of the Police Civilian Oversight Board. The operating procedures deal with the Board’s operating structure, as well as protocol for investigations, disciplinary recommendations, mediation and hearings.
A proposed amendment to this legislation would affirm the Board’s ability to hold a hearing following an investigation of an incident — this is not currently specified in the ordinance.
Mayor Lloyd Snook declined to vote on the operating procedures in order to allow time to finalize the language of the procedures and to give Council additional time to read over the procedures. Both the ordinance amendment and operating procedures will be voted on at the next December meeting.
Council also voted to support a proposed Capital Project to make the Charlottesville Dogwood Vietnam Memorial handicap accessible. The project includes the creation of a parking lot and pedestrian bridge.
Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders encouraged City Council to approve the resolution in support of the project.
“With passing this resolution, it would actually indicate to the veterans that we too are serious about supporting them and seeing this come to pass,” Sanders said.
Council member Brian Pinkston also expressed his support for the proposed project in terms of the message it would send.
“One of the real goals of doing this is to basically make a statement, you know, the city values this memorial and values doing what it takes to make the memorial accessible,” Pinkston said.
Council members then voted on local proposed legislative priorities and positions from the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. The top priorities for 2023 are public education funding, budgets and funding and support for expanded broadband internet access. TJPD’s 2023 legislative positions include supporting increased federal and state funding to localities for the purpose of developing affordable housing and supporting legislation to help combat swatting — the act of making a fake crime report with the intent of sending a SWAT team to the home of an unsuspecting person — among many other legislative programs.
Council voted to approve the legislative programs with the exception of two portions — one maintaining the principle of sovereign immunity as well as the program’s opposition to legislation mandating expansion of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act’s area of coverage.
City Council also voted unanimously to pass the City of Charlottesville’s own legislative priorities and positions. These positions include supporting legislation to allow localities to increase the sales tax by one cent to provide revenue for school facilities, incentives at the state level to encourage the use of electric vehicles, and the expansion of funding for programs including tuition reimbursement and childcare aid to support workers. All of these positions were approved unanimously with the exception of one duplicate item.
At the next meeting, Council will discuss a request for a zoning map amendment that, if approved, would allow Mount View Baptist Church to establish non-residential facilities on the property.