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Governor accepts proposed reforms to ABC law enforcement, including body cameras

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RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe accepted all recommendations proposed by a panel to improve law enforcement at the Virginia ABC.

The Virginia ABC Enforcement Expert Review Panel was assembled by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran at the governor’s request, to examine issues involving the mission, structure, policies and training of ABC’s bureau of law enforcement.

The governor’s request came after then third-year University of Virginia student Martese Johnson was bloodied during an arrest and the news went national. The student has a pending three million lawsuit against the ABC after charges against him were dropped.

Johnson’s lawsuit claimed his civil rights were abused, and he called the ABC arrest assault and battery. The suit is filed against the ABC, its director Shawn Walker, and the three officers.

Final recommendations from the panel include a renewed focus on ABC licensee regulatory matters rather than street-level enforcement, as well as additional training and increased staffing of ABC special agents to monitor licensed establishments and keep pace with industry growth.

Additional recommendations include ABC’s accreditation through a state or national law enforcement accrediting body, the establishment of stronger relationships among local and campus law enforcement and implementation of body-worn cameras during enforcement activities.

The panel also suggested quarterly reports demonstrating progress toward the adopted recommendations.

“The Governor has instructed us to put these recommendations into practice, and Virginia ABC is committed to operating under these guiding principles,” said ABC Chief Operating Officer Travis Hill. “Several of the recommendations, including mandated training for all ABC law enforcement personnel and accreditation through the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional

The 20-person expert review panel consisted of representatives of law enforcement agencies, commonwealth’s attorneys, ABC licensed establishments, alcohol education and prevention groups, state agency heads, a university student council president and other relevant stakeholder groups.

The full report can be viewed on Virginia ABC’s website.