McAuliffe signs executive order: ABC officers must be less terrifying

ABC officers must now conform to higher standards, thanks to McAuliffe’s new executive order. This follows the violent arrest of UVA student Martese Johnson last week and the ridiculous arrest of Elizabeth Daly in 2013 (the “sparkling water incident”).

One good thing to come out of the unfortunate incident last week in which a student was injured by ABC officers: Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order today to help prevent this kind of embarrassing business in the future.

Martese Johnson, 20, required 10 stitches after his run-in with the ABC officers in the early hours of last Wednesday, March 18th. In 2013, Elizabeth Daly was arrested after attempting to flee from a bunch of dudes with guns and flashlights, who, it turns out, were plainclothes ABC officers mistaking the case of sparkling water in her car for beer.

Even if Johnson HAD been drunk and disorderly, and even if Daly’s sparkling water WAS beer, would this kind of treatment be warranted? Absolutely not, says McAuliffe with this executive order. Time to shape up, ABC officers. And now you must.

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Importance of the Initiative

Keeping Virginia families and communities safe is the highest responsibility of the Governor and state government. In performing that duty, we also have a responsibility to ensure that agencies charged with public safety have the training, resources and oversight they need to do their jobs professionally and in a way that promotes and protects the public trust.

Recent events involving special agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) in Charlottesville have underscored longstanding concerns about the agency’s Bureau of Law Enforcement and exposed the need for more extensive training and oversight. While we must await results from the investigations by Virginia State Police and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Charlottesville before drawing conclusions about that particular incident, it is not too soon to take proactive steps to improve ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement.

Accordingly, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the laws of the Commonwealth, I hereby direct the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, the Chief Operating Officer and the Commissioners of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, in conjunction with the Department of Criminal Justice Services, to take the following immediate actions:

The ABC Board shall require the immediate retraining of all ABC special agents in the areas of use of force, cultural diversity, effective interaction with youth, and community policing, to be completed no later than September 1, 2015. This training shall be implemented and certified by the Department of Criminal Justice Services utilizing evidence-based training curricula and education practices that meet nationally-accepted standards.

Effective immediately, the ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement shall report directly to the Chief Operating Officer of the ABC, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of all ABC functions.

The Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security shall convene an expert review panel of representatives of local and campus law enforcement agencies and sheriff’s offices, Commonwealth’s Attorneys, the Governor’s Policy Advisor on Law Enforcement for ABC, the Chief Operating Office of the ABC, the Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services and such other individuals representing relevant stakeholder groups, as he may deem appropriate in order to review the agency’s mission, structure, policies and training and make recommendations regarding any identified changes needed. A report of the review panel shall be completed and presented to me no later than November 1, 2015.

The ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement shall immediately review, update or enter into appropriate Mutual Aid Agreements, or other Memoranda of Understanding, with local law enforcement agencies serving communities with state institutions of higher education, with the goal of improving collaboration, communication and delineation of expectations regarding enforcement activities performed by ABC special agents in these communities.

Effective Date of the Executive Order

This Executive Order shall be effective upon its signing and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 25th Day of March, 2015.

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