Policing Issues In Albemarle and Charlottesville


Charlottesville Chief of Police Al Thomas Jr. (left) and Albemarle County Chief of Police Ron Lantz addressed current policing issues including traffic concerns, staffing levels, drugs and gangs. They spoke at our Wednesday, November 8, 2016 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Rich DeMong. A podcast of the one-hour presentation and Q&A is below.


2016-11-09-2-ssv-thomasAlfred S. Thomas Jr. was appointed Charlottesville chief of police effective May 23, 2016. Chief Thomas served as chief of police for the City of Lexington, Virginia, since 2010. During his time in Lexington, he has directed a number of major initiatives, including operational reorganizations, upgrades to emergency communications infrastructure, implementation of mobile data terminals and digital in-car camera systems, and expanded outreach to city youth with the implementation of multiple programs including a junior police academy, police summer camp, and a regional high school internship program.

Upon his appointment to chief of the Charlottesville Police, he was cited for his experience, interpersonal skills and leadership abilities.

Prior to his time in Lexington, Chief Thomas spent 20 years with the Lynchburg Police Department working in varied roles with increasing command responsibility. From 1985 until 1990, he proudly served in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.

Chief Thomas was chair of the Rockbridge Regional Law Enforcement Command Board, vice-president of the Rockbridge Area Housing Corporation Board of Directors, is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officials and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Rockbridge Area YMCA.

2016-11-09-3-ssv-lantzAlbemarle County named Ron Lantz as chief of police effective June 1, 2016.  Chief Lantz served as Albemarle’s deputy chief of police where, since 2012, he assisted the chief of police in planning and directing the many activities of the Albemarle County Police Department including providing supervision for 115 of the 129 sworn officers in the functional areas of patrol, traffic, school resource, crime prevention, and animal control.  In addition, Chief Lantz was responsible for leading the implementation of the County’s Geographic Based Policing initiative which was launched in 2012.

Prior to joining the Albemarle County force, Lantz completed his career with the Fairfax County Police Department by serving as a district station commander where he was responsible for 155 officers providing police service to 125,000 residents. While with Fairfax County, Lantz received the Departmental Meritorious Commendation, the Departmental Meritorious Action Award, and the Departmental Meritorious Service Award.

Lantz received his Bachelors of Science from the University of Charleston with a major in Organizational Leadership. He successfully completed the Key Executive Leadership Certificate Program from American University and is currently enrolled in courses geared towards a Master of Science with a focus on Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Liberty University. Lantz is also a graduate of the DEA Drug Commander Academy, the FBI National Academy, and the Virginia Association of Police New Chief / Deputy Chief School.

Program Summary

Charlottesville Chief Al Thomas spoke about changing the structure of the department’s ranks — including the recent promotion of Maj. Gary Pleasants to the role of deputy chief. He also addressed the need to focus more efforts on connecting with the community and listening to what people want.

Albemarle County Chief Ron Lantz addressed his department’s efforts in geopolicing, a strategy that splits the county into geographical sectors and assigns officers to specific areas, allowing them to better engage their community. He also spoke about traffic being one of the biggest issues his officers face, most notably distracted driving.

“I once saw a guy eating spaghetti while driving with his knees,” said Lantz, getting a laugh from the audience. “We had a good conversation, pulled over on the side of the road.”

Lantz said he hopes to hire more officers and, eventually, open a district police station in the north part of the county near Hollymead Town Center. Along with the addition of a new satellite office in Crozet, he said he’d like to see another open in the urban ring near apartment complexes with high numbers of calls for service.

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