Outrage is spreading across the UVA campus, over the bloody arrest of honor student Martese Johnson. The 20-year-old can be seen in a cell phone video gone viral, being held on the ground by ABC agents. The altercation is now at the center of a police brutality investigation, called for by the governor.More >>
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -
Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order on Wednesday to overhaul the states Alcoholic Beverage Control department in the wake of a controversial arrest of a University of Virginia student.
The order requires ABC special agents to be trained on use of force, cultural diversity, effective interaction with youth and young adults and community policing. The training must be completed by September 1 and will be certified by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
It also put the Chief Operating Officer of the ABC over the department's law enforcement and convenes an expert review panel to come up with a list of recommendations and changes to the agency.
Perhaps most importantly, the ABC will have to enter an agreement with college communities which clearly defines the roles of agents in conjunction with local law enforcement.
"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," wrote Gov. McAuliffe. "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."
Gov. McAuliffe said he signed the order 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."
The UVA Student Council is voting on a resolution tonight, which urges the governor to do more. The resolution aims to strip ABC agents of criminal law enforcement authority.
"ABC should not have the power to arrest, which is really what we're getting at. And we want those officers to regulate alcohol at an administrative level, in which they can be unarmed and interact with local law enforcement agencies when needed," said Abraham Axler, UVA Student Council President.
UVA's Black Student Alliance backs the resolution, as well.
"It's relatively clear what (ABC's) purpose is, in terms of controlling alcohol. So, if that is their purpose, then why do they have this power to have guns and to touch people?" questioned Joy Omenyi, president of the BSA.
A spokesperson for ABC says the agency is already implementing the governor's orders, and points out that ABC brings in large revenue for the state, which leads to economic growth. ABC says it's also widely involved in alcohol abuse prevention and public education.
UVA students are planning a peaceful demonstration, wearing dark colors tomorrow, in support of Johnson's court appearance.
Johnson and his lawyer are also set to meet with state police investigators after the hearing, to give their account of the arrest.