City Defends, then Fires its Police Chief

“I am looking for a new leadership direction in the department and we will start the search for our next Chief immediately,” said City Manager Chip Boyles in an evening press release.

Less than two weeks after touting and defending Police Chief Rashall Brackney's record in a long press release that responded to the critical results of a local Police Benevolent Association survey, and revealed that Brackney had disciplined and fired members of the SWAT Team for behaviors that included 'circulating nude videos of females and themselves,' 'videotaping children of SWAT members detonating explosives,' and making statements about killing City command staff, the City announced late Wednesday that Brackney had been fired. Cue cartoon head shake.

“I am looking for a new leadership direction in the department and we will start the search for our next Chief immediately,” said City Manager Chip Boyles in an evening press release, the same day Assistant Chief of Police Jim Mooney was expected to comment on his decision to retire, which he announced on Monday. Instead, Boyles announced that Mooney would be staying on to "assist with this transition" as the search for a new Police Chief begins.

The day before Brackney had attended a forum to discuss her collaboration with the Center for Policing Equity (a nicely detailed report on that from the DP's Tyler Hammel, who has had his hands full the last few days ), a non-profit that, as Brackney wrote in a Sunday op-ed in the Daily Progress co-authored with the Center's co-founder, Dr. Tracie Keesee, "uses science to identify and reduce the causes of racial disparities in policing and advocates for large-scale and meaningful change in public safety."

"Four years ago in Charlottesville, a group of far-right white supremacists and self-identified Nazis raised torches and marched through the streets chanting “Jews will not replace us” — a scene many found difficult to believe was taking place in 2017, " the op-ed begins. "Those two days prompted a national reckoning about the prevalence of racism and supremacy in our country. It was also the catalyst for the Charlottesville Police Department to remove our blinders and confront systemic racism in our own institution and the systems of criminal justice."

Results of an internal police department survey were finally released Wednesday as well, which show police officers at odds with department leadership under Brackney, Hammel also reported. A majority wrote that "they did not feel they would be supported if a false allegation was made against them, indicated that they believed command staff takes problems personally and said that they are seeking employment elsewhere."

“Stop pandering to the complainers and mobs — we will never win them over,” said one of the responses. “Focus on us, the police officers, and the honest citizens, the silent majority.”

Hammel also reported that officers criticized command staff for “worrying about politics” and "allow protesters to run the street.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who said she did not find out about Brackney's firing until after the fact, offered a blunt assessment on her Facebook page: "white supremacy is winning."

"I'm not sharing this information because it will change the outcome," Walker later wrote on her Facebook page. " I'm sharing because white supremacy is powerful. Chief Brackney isn't going to return, nor would I ask her to come back. I'm simply acknowledging how toxic this community is. I wish I had facts and didn't have to "gossip or speculate' as our world-class twitter guru (Molly Conger) pointed out. . I would appreciate receiving respect as the mayor and having been given a reason why....Also, the city knew how I would respond to this and didn't care...I'm sitting here so frustrated, like so many Black women, who end up only having anger to lean on so often. I supported Dr. Brackney because she is as committed to breaking down these racist systems as I am. I'm saddened because little Black girls everywhere are looking at this and learning what happens when you risk everything to tell the truth."