Virginia ABC Changes Policy after Student Arrest

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The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is updating its policy for undercover officers after a Virginia college student was arrested for buying what agents mistakenly thought to be alcohol at a local store.

On April 11, Elizabeth Daly, 20, and her friends were walking to her car with a pack of bottled water when six plain-clothed ABC agents confronted them. The agents thought she was a minor in possession of a 12-pack of beer.

One agent jumped on the hood of Daly's car and another drew a gun. Frightened, Daly tried to flee the scene.

"They weren't in uniform and then they started holding up badges, but we didn't look at the badges because we were freaking out and so we started driving away. What should we do?" she said.

The move earned Daly a night in jail. Prosecutors later withdrew the three felony charges filed against her. No apology was given for the behavior of the agents.

The incident sparked a public outcry, with angry citizens bombarding the agency's Richmond headquarters with phone calls and emails.

"They're calling the governor's office, they're calling our public affairs office, they're calling every office," ABC spokeswoman Maureen Haney told The Daily Progress. "We're hearing about it on Twitter, they're using our website's email form, they're commenting on our Facebook."

The agency is now requiring one uniformed officer to be present for similar operations.

"It is the Department's belief that this change will further clarify the nature of the stop by law enforcement and help put citizens who are approached at ease regarding the identity of the officer or officers," the agency said in a statement.

"The agency will determine whether additional policy or procedural changes are appropriate following the review," they said.

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