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Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022
Last night, Charlottesville City Council voted unanimously to hire Michael Kochis as the new chief of police, and Kochis accepted on the spot. He will begin his tenure Jan. 16.
Before we say more, we’d like to know what you’d like to know about our new chief! Hit reply to this email and send us the questions you have for Kochis — and we’ll ask him.
Kochis received glowing reviews from Charlottesville officials Monday night. Interim City Manager Michael Rogers said that references he spoke with in Warrenton, Virginia — where Kochis is currently chief of police — had wonderful things to say.
“I checked with the leader of the Black Lives Matter organization in Warrington, a large Baptist Church in Warrenton and the NAACP,” Rogers said. “All three gave glowing reports about Mr. Kochis’ engagement with the community. And, if you can believe this, there was a certain passion that these people felt about this man and his approach. And that’s something that every public servant would really be pleased to have other people say about them.”
Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said he received similar responses from Warrenton officials, whom he spoke with independently. Kochis took the position in Warrenton after the city had cycled through three police chiefs in 18 months. “So there’s some similarity to the situation here,” Snook said. “He came into a situation of great instability and was able to bring stability.”
Kochis was selected from three candidates, including Charlottesville’s acting chief, Tito Durrette. Though Durrette will not continue to lead the department, officials expressed their appreciation for the work he’s done over the past year.
“During this period, he’s been a stabilizing force,” Rogers said. “He’s had some tough challenges, and we want to publicly thank him for what he’s done.”
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For some context, Durrette took the helm last year after former Police Chief RaShall Brackney was abruptly fired by former City Manager Chip Boyles. Boyles has said that he chose to fire Brackney after being told that officers were unhappy in the department and leaving at alarming rates.
Boyles says that two CPD surveys influenced his decision to fire the police chief — here’s what those surveys say
But Brackney’s firing ignited intense backlash from community members, and Boyles resigned shortly thereafter. Brackney is now suing the city over the dismissal, alleging it was spurred by racism, among other things. Brackney became Charlottesville’s police chief in June 2018, replacing Al Thomas, who resigned after the Nazi rally in August 2017.
9 Charlottesville officials and police union head named in 73-page lawsuit alleging racism in firing of police chief
Thanks for reading,
Jessie Higgins, managing editor