(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The police chief of Charlottesville, Virginia, Timothy Longo, called the images of a University of Virginia student’s arrest last week “disturbing” in an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week, while calling on police to think more about race in their interactions with community members.
“What is depicted on video is unfortunate, it’s tragic, it’s certainly disturbing to me as a law enforcement official and frankly disturbing to this community,” Longo told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz of video showing UVA student Martese Johnson, who was injured while being arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control police outside a bar near the UVA campus Wednesday night.
Images of a bloodied Johnson quickly circulated on social media and led to student protests on campus, with Virginia State Police called in to conduct an investigation.
Longo met with students at a heated town hall meeting Friday where they expressed concern that the relationship between police and minority groups has escalated.
“Law enforcement depends so much on its relationship with its citizens, if any aspect of our citizenry feels threatened, feels that they’re not being treated fairly, that disrupts my ability to have that relationship and carry out the function of what I call relational policing,” Longo said on This Week.
He said he is focused on continuing the discussion and helping the community move forward from a difficult few months, saying police need to consider the importance of race while engaging with the community.
“I think attitudes need to change, I think hearts need to change,” Longo said. “This is a difficult discussion, it’s an uncomfortable discussion as we saw on Friday afternoon. We all saw students that are hurt and angry and wanting and deserving of answers. We need to keep this discussion alive and well and law enforcement, frankly, needs to be reminded of the history of this country and the aspect of race and the importance it plays in our history. And we need to remind ourselves of that as we go into our communities to engage the people we need to have a relationship with.”
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