On April 11, 2013, another UVa student was arrested under very similarly-worrisome circumstances by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents. Elizabeth Day, who is white and was then 20 years of age, had been shopping with her roommates at Harris Teeter at the Barracks Road Shopping Center, and had purchased a carton of sparkling water, some cookie dough and ice cream, for her sorority fundraiser; and according to an official recording of the 911 call that she and her friends desperately made that evening, that was released today by ABC13News, in Lynchburg, Virginia, it is clear that she and the other young women in the vehicle are terrified, as she screams to the Dispatch officer:
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! We were surrounded by like six people and they started flashing, well, they were yelling at us and then we, like, didn’t know if they were real police officers or not, we were freaking out and so we started driving away.”
In the act of escaping in the darkness, Ms. Daly came too close to two of the officers; and although she pulled over in a safe place and called 911 and waited until a uniformed officer could respond to her call, the ABC agents charged her with two counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and one count of eluding police. As these were each Class 6 felonies, they carried a penalty of up to five years in prison and $2,500 in fines per offense. The Commonwealth’s Attorney, David Chapman dropped the charges and noted at the time that he had never had a situation like this in his 34 years of experience.
Speaking to the Daily Progress at the time of the incident in 2013, Ms. Daly said:
“They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform. I couldn’t put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were … terrified”
The upshot of that investigation was the pledge that the VSP would provide additional training as well as uniforms for the individuals who serve currently as both capacities as information gatherers and educators in their role as agents and officers in their role as enforcers. The matter was also brought to court, but both parties reached a settlement in the case, for which the Commonwealth of Virginia’s cost was $212,500.
At the request of UVa President Sullivan, Gov. McAuliffe signed an executive order on 25 March, effective immediately, which will require that all ABC special agents be “retrained in the use of force and in cultural diversity and interaction with young people.” It also gives universities and local police departments more oversight of ABC special agents assigned to college towns, “with the goal of improving collaboration, communication and delineation of expectations regarding enforcement activities performed by ABC special agents in these communities.”
There have been only three investigations over a 5-year period specifically involving the use of force where one agency (the Virginia State Police) is examining another agency (the ABC), where the revenue for both comes from the same revenue stream. According to ABC13News, there have been Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agency internal investigations over the same period, which involved issues ranging from interactions between agents and those they encounter to allegations of improper conduct, generally.
The Governor’s Executive Order 40 entails compliance by 1 September 2015:
- Requiring more training for all ABC special agents in the areas of; use of force, cultural diversity, effective interaction with youth and young adults, and community policing.
- Improving accountability and oversight by requiring that the ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement will now report to the Chief Operating Officer of the ABC, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of all agency functions.
- Examining the need for additional steps by directing the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to convene an expert review panel to report to the Governor on the agency’s mission, structure, policies and training and make recommendations regarding any identified changes needed.
- Improving cooperation and communication with local communities and Virginia colleges and universities by directing the ABC to engage with communities that are home to state institutions of higher education about its enforcement role in each locality. The ABC will update or enter into agreements that delineate an agreed-upon enforcement role for the ABC that is in cooperation with each community’s law enforcement approach.