A local police chief is giving his thoughts after spending 21 years in Charlottesville. Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger was once an officer in Albemarle County, and he says hearing what happened broke his heart.
He used to patrol the streets of Charlottesville, and now that he’s back home in Wheeling, he hopes to brings some of the police tactics used this weekend back to the Friendly City. “Because of the population there and the university there and large crowds gathering, the law enforcement agencies there are experienced there dealing with large crowds.”
Oddly enough, he was actually down in Charlottesville just hours before the chaos erupted. He says the city brought in police from all over the state to prepare for Saturday’s rally, and the officers handled the difficult situations pretty well. “I know for a fact that they were very, very prepared as they always are but at the end of the day, you cannot always control what happens and this was evident when the subject decides to drive a 4000 lb automobile into a group of people.”
He has been in contact with his former workers since the incident and says they’re exhausted but doing fine. His heart breaks for the city and the 3 people who were killed, the 2 state troopers and 20 year old Heather Heyer. “Only there because of the people’s right to speak freely right and to gather, and sometimes those you have to plan for the worst and gets out of control. So my heart breaks for those 2 troopers and their families, the young lady that was killed.”
With Wheeling hosting multiple events that gather hundreds of people, the city’s police have been stepping up their game to ensure the public stays safe.
Chief Schwertfeger is currently working on having a civil disturbance unit as part of his department.
“Either myself or members of that unit I may send to Charlottesville if they will have us and either sit in on some of the debriefings that they will have or get a report that they may produce as a result of those debriefings to help us better plan what kinda went right and what went wrong, where areas of improvement can be identified,” said Schwertfeger.
He says that he is doing all of this because that’s their job, to make sure the public is safe.