The person who agreed to come out of retirement to replace former Police Chief RaShall Brackney has now decided to retire after all, leaving the city without a police chief but with an assistant chief to oversee the day-to-day operations of the department.
City Manager Chip Boyles announced Assistant Chief of the Charlottesville Police Department Major Jim Mooney’s retirement on Friday, effective immediately. Mooney was initially set to retire Sept. 1, but he agreed to remain in his position in an apparent reversal of decisions after Boyles terminated Police Chief RaShall Brackney’s contract the same day. Captain Latroy “Tito” Durrette will manage the day to day operations of the Charlottesville Police Department as Assistant Chief while the city starts a national search for its next chief.
Boyles said that Mooney submitted retirement paperwork on Aug. 31 and on Sept. 1 agreed to stay on for up to six months through a retirement allowance until Boyles replaces Brackney with an interim chief of police. The press release did not give a reason for Mooney’s change of mind, and he did not return phone calls. Boyles gave no reason, and he, too, did not return calls Friday.
According to a city press release, as part of the current transition, Durrette has been promoted to the rank of Major and named Assistant Chief.
“I want to thank James Mooney for assisting with the ongoing transition and Major Durrette for stepping up to this challenge,” Boyles said in the press release. “I am very confident that he is committed and prepared to help keep the department moving in a positive direction.”
As captain, Durrette previously served as the commander of the Support Services Division.
“I am humbled to have this opportunity,” Durrette said in the press release. “I want to focus on the dedicated men and women of this department. It will take everyone – in the community and in the department – to accomplish the goal of continuing to move policing forward in Charlottesville.”
Durrette started with the Charlottesville Police Department as a Police Explorer at age 16, before he was hired as a Community Service Officer. He was later assigned to work in city parks during the summer before starting full-time work.
When Durrette graduated from the academy at age 21, he was the youngest officer hired in the department’s history and was the 25th Black officer hired in the department’s history.
When Durrette was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, once again making department history, he was one of only two Black lieutenants to ever serve the CPD. As a lieutenant, Major Durrette was responsible for the daily operation of daylight shift before being transferred to the Community Support Bureau where he led the department’s School Resource Unit and Traffic Unit.
Last month, City Manager Chip Boyles exercised his right to terminate Brackney’s employment contract upon 90 days’ notice. Brackney, who was hired by the city in June 2018, will be on paid administrative leave until Nov. 30. Brackney had no public record of wrongdoing or disciplinary action taken against her, which sparked community outrage at the decision.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker cited Brackney’s termination as part of the reason she decided to withdraw from the Nov. 2 City Council election.
Boyles has maintained he was concerned after at least 10 department leaders said they would leave because of Brackney’s leadership. Boyles said he felt he had to make a “hasty” decision to save the department, which resulted in Brackney’s termination.
In a Sept. 17 op-ed in The Daily Progress, Boyles stated the results of an internal survey and a survey conducted by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association influenced his decision. He also said he regretted not working with Brackney and the councilors before firing her.
During Monday’s meeting, Walker played a recording of Boyles talking about the motives of Michael Wells, chair of the PBA, revealing Boyles thought Wells had an agenda to get Brackney fired.
“All he has in his sights is the chief’s badge,” Boyles said. “I think he could care less about the officers. He’s on a mission.”
Boyles and Mooney could not be reached for comment. Brackney has not spoken to the media since the day before she was terminated.