VA Student Arrest Raises Questions About Training Of Alcohol Agents


The arrest and injury of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson prompted “black lives matter” protests that have become familiar after police actions against unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere, says the Christian Science Monitor. After protests that drew 1,000 students, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe asked state police to investigate what happened outside an Irish pub during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Whether racial bias was at play is just one of the questions raised by actions of Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Control (ABC) agents who arrested Johnson outside a Charlottesville bar Wednesday morning.

Another key question is how well trained are these enforcement agents, who in Virginia and a number of other states have the power to arrest and carry firearms, particularly when it comes to interacting with young adults. Alcohol is a fraught issue on college campuses, from alcohol poisoning to its role in sexual assault and other crimes. Studies show enforcement is an effective tool for cutting down on such abuses. Given that ABC agents have police powers, they should get mandatory cultural training as police officers do, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union say.

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