Charlottesville’s First Black Female Police Chief Was Fired After Officers Refused to Comply Amid Internal Probe of SWAT Team

RaShall Brackney, the former chief of police in Charlottesville, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city over her firing last year. (Zack Wajsgras for The Washington Post)

The final meeting of the day left Charlottesville’s police chief stunned and fearing for her safety, so RaShall Brackney unholstered her gun and held it by her side as she left headquarters one night in June 2021.

The first Black woman to head the department wasn’t worried about protesters who were a frequent presence outside or street crime. The threat she perceived was uncomfortably close: a handful of officers who served under her.

A deputy had just briefed her on an internal probe of the SWAT team. It found widespread issues, including officers making crass racial remarks and one apparently showing a trainee how to hide misconduct, according to the internal report obtained by The Washington Post.

In a text, one disgruntled member wrote they should “take out” command staff, a comment Brackney took seriously but some officers felt was just blowing off steam.

Brackney had been hired in the wake of the infamous “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, when white supremacists descended on Charlottesville and made it nationally synonymous with hate. City officials wanted her to restore public trust in a force that badly fumbled the mayhem, modernize the department and address racial inequalities in policing that many in the city felt the march unmasked.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Justin Jouvenal

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