Commentary/Opinion: Charlottesville Police Department is not a systematically racist organization

I served in the Charlottesville Police Department from 1981-2012. During my thirty-one year career, I held the rank of patrolman, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain.

I want to push back on the false narrative I hear represented by the current mayor of Charlottesville and a small group of supporters: that the Charlottesville Police Department is a systemically racist organization. The mayor and others make these claims while offering no evidence or rational argument to support them. I submit these accusations are slanderous, absurd, and demonstrably false.

I served the majority of my thirty-one year career under two police chiefs: John DeKoven Bowen and Timothy J. Longo — two of the finest human beings I’ve ever known. Both chiefs were recognized by community leaders of all races in Charlottesville as men of honor and integrity who ran an outstanding police department. The Charlottesville Police Department was viewed with high-regard locally and statewide as a professional and well-run organization. To suggest either of these chiefs ran a racist department is uninformed at best, and at worst a harmful falsehood perpetrated for political and personal gain. 

In my entire career, I never witnessed a single incident of racism by a Charlottesville police officer. Much to the contrary, I witnessed countless acts of courage, compassion, and selflessness in service to the people of Charlottesville without consideration of race. I worked in a department that did everything it possibly could to protect and serve the minority population of the city. No police department is perfect, but our officers were held accountable for their actions, disciplined when appropriate, and terminated when necessary for violating departmental policies, procedures, and standards of conduct. 

The Charlottesville Police Department is not now, nor has it ever been, a systemically racist organization — and the fine men and women who serve honorably in the Charlottesville Police Department are not racist. On a daily basis, they do more good for the citizens of this city than Mayor Nikuyah Walker and all the self-proclaimed anti-police activists will ever do.

Pay attention Charlottesville — learn the truth and get to know your police officers. They are good and decent men and women who work hard in a difficult, dangerous and often thankless job. Any one of them would risk their own lives to save yours, no matter the circumstance — I guarantee it. They stand up every day for what is right.

Who’s standing up for them?