Capt. James Mooney of the Charlottesville Police Department has been promoted to the newly created position of assistant chief of police and will take over the department’s day-to-day operations.
Mooney, along with Lt. Steve Knick, was formally promoted during a ceremony in City Hall Thursday afternoon. Mooney has been with the city police since 1994 and most recently served as captain of the criminal investigations division.
Knick, who was promoted to captain, will oversee the department’s administration division, which provides the budgetary, accounts payable/receivable and inventory functions to the department, according to a news release from the city.
Thursday’s ceremony was streamed live on the city’s Facebook and Twitter pages and featured speeches from Mayor Nikuyah Walker, Interim City Manager John Blair and Charlottesville Chief of Police RaShall Brackney.
Walker congratulated the two officers and thanked them for the work they have done to keep residents protesting the death of George Floyd safe while they practiced their First Amendment rights.
“The honor that you bring to this occupation is exactly the type of person that we need over time, having these trying and conversations around reimagining and imagining within this profession,” she said. “So I appreciate the way that you lead.”
Brackney also congratulated the officers and cautioned them that greater power does lead to greater responsibility which will not be easy and will come with a greater deal of responsibility.
“True leadership is developed and defined in those quiet, reflective moments,” she said. “Those times when you were up at night, the times when you question your own decisions, those times when you want to quit, and those times when I call on you to be your most authentic self, so that you can be the best version of yourself, not just for you.”
Both officers received pins and pledged to uphold the state and U.S. constitutions impartially and impartially perform their duties and serve the Charlottesville community.
Following the ceremony, Mooney and Knick met virtually with reporters and talked more in-depth about the responsibilities and goals of their new positions.
According to Mooney, the assistant chief of police position is a newly created position that will function similar to the previous deputy chief of police position. That role has been unfilled since Gary Pleasants retired in May 2018.
The day-to-day operations will include managing the department’s four divisions — operations, investigation, support services and the administrative. By handling these operations, Mooney said the goal is to free up Brackney’s time to tackle bigger initiatives, such as changing the way the department responds to calls for service.
“There are there are things that we don’t believe the police need to be involved in, particularly mental health,” he said. “We think mental health professionals need to take the lead on that we would play more of a support role and I think the community has asked for that.”
Adding to Mooney’s comments, Knick said the department has a long way to go to earn back community trust. In his new position, which will involve leading the administrative division, Knick said he plans to better utilize technology available to the department.
“Whether it’s technology that we’re sending out with these officers, that’s better helping to document what’s going on out there, looking at the efficiency of what these officers are doing,” he said. “Something else that falls in line with the six principles of 21st Century Policing is the training/education factor this compartment, which we’ve already started going through some very extensive training regarding implicit bias, de-escalation tactics and we’re going to continue to look at that because it’s something that it’s ever changing.”
Additionally, Mooney said the city police are in the process of hiring a Fourth Amendment analyst to examine the department’s complaints, and use of force/pursuit incidents. The hope, he said, is to hire someone who can look at all the documentation through a neutral lens.
Both officers officially assumed their new positions Thursday.