Kochis talks gun violence at crowded community forum
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Dozens of people turned out for a community forum with Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis on Monday night.
The meeting was held to talk about a recent spike in gun violence.
Many voiced frustration and concerns, including how they don’t feel safe calling law enforcement, they don’t trust the police department, and more.
Kochis acknowledged there is a lack of officers in the community, and a vacancy rate of 30 percent on the force plays a part in that.
“For some reason, we have disengaged from the community as a police department,” said Kochis.
He also explained how the city is prioritizing where it puts officers, using a three-layered approach he calls hot-spot policing. This approach uses data to see where there are clusters of crimes occurring.
Kochis also says he’s working with the police departments at the University of Virginia and Albemarle County to identify wider areas of gun violence.
Additionally, there is now a CPD detective assigned to the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, which tracks weapons.
“They work at a high level with the idea of identifying where these guns are coming from,” said Kochis. “Tracing guns, because I have that same question. Where are these kids getting these guns?”
He also says the department is working toward creating community partnerships.
One part of that has been selecting a sergeant who is now a community involvement coordinator, working to re-engage with the people who live in the city and build trust.
“You’re right. There’s a reason why you don’t trust us,” said Kochis. “Because you only see us when there’s an emergency in your community. You’re only seeing us when something bad’s happening. We’ve completely withdrawn from the community. And for that, I apologize.”
He will also continue holding weekly walk-and-talks in different communities around Charlottesville.