CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- For the first time, the new chief of the Charlottesville Police Department is speaking about what he wants to do with his new role.

Incoming Chief Michael Kochis says he's going to be focused on claims of racism, a police officer shortage and getting guns off the streets.

The Charlottesville City Council voted on Monday to approve Kochis for the position based on recommendations from interim City Manager Michael Rogers.

Kochis will take over as a chief for the CPD in January.

It has been more than a year since the city has had a police chief. Former Chief RaShall Brackney was fired in September 2021.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Kochis said he is currently in the process of developing a clear mission and vision for the future of the police department. He says that includes improving communication and addressing issues that CPD faces, such as accusations from Brackney that the department is racist and sexist.

"I will say, the accusation of racism within, not only the police department, but any government entity or any position of trust, should be taken very seriously. And I will tell you, that accusation on anybody or any person, deserves a full and thorough investigation. And if I had any evidence that that would be occurring, that will be dealt with,” Kochis said.

Under his leadership, Kochis says that he plans to make the community feel more safe, secure, and connected to the police force, especially with the rising gun violence in the city this year.
Rogers says the new chief will focus on getting guns off the street.

"We're all concerned about what appears to be an escalation of gun violence in our city. There's been more instances than we're used to, and naturally, people are concerned about it. So, that's one area that we've got to focus on,” Rogers said.

Kochis says, as the new chief, he'll start implementing programs focused on city youth, while also working alongside other departments to address gun violence involving teens.

He currently serves as the chief of the Warrenton Police Department. His first day with Charlottesville is Jan. 16.