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Charlottesville meets final candidates for top cop

Tito Durrette
City of Charlottesville
Latroy "Tito" Durrette is acting chief of Charlottesville's police department.

In November of 2021, Charlottesville had 117 police officers and 20 vacancies. Three months later, the force was down to 95, so the next police chief will have to hire.

The acting chief, Tito Durrette, said he would give preference to local applicants and begin working with kids before they graduate from high school.

Mike Kochi
City of Charlottesville
Mike Kochis is chief of police in Warrenton, Virginia.

“My parents died at a very young age. I know how it is to be homeless," he recalled, "but I also had an officer reach out to me. He started me off in wrestling, got me into the Explorer programs. We have to start encouraging our young people to get involved in their community -- go into high schools and middle schools, because some people are not going to make it to college.”

Mike Kochis, chief of police in Warrenton, said his department no longer had vacancies.

"The last vacancy we had, I had 144 applicants, and we don't pay well," he told a crowd of about 30 people.

Kochis claimed part of his success was getting women interested in the work. A quarter of his force is female, and he claims they make the best cops.

Easton McDonald
City of Charlottesville
Major Easton McDonald is a commander with the Loudon County Sheriff's office.

Easton McDonald, a division commander in Loudoun County, said he had also seen success in hiring and training officers, imbuing them with a sense of professionalism, and the community appreciates that.

“It is not unusual to go to a restaurant and get ready to pay your bill, and somebody’s paid it, because they observe the professionalism and the respect that we provide to our citizens,” he explained.

All three candidates expressed confidence that the city would be able to rebuild morale and regain trust from a community shaken by police inaction in 2017 and by charges of racism in the ranks.

Watch the full presentation here

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief