‘I leave with a sense of pride’: VB Police chief writes letter ahead of May 1 retirement

Virginia Beach
Jim Cervera, Julie Lusich

Virginia Beach Chief of Police, Jim Cervera, left, talks with Julie Lusich, right, mother of shooting victim Kate Nixon, after Cervera’s presentation of a report on the May 31st shooting at the Virginia Beach municipal center in Virginia Beach, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Less than two months before his official retirement, Virginia Beach Police Chief James A. Cervera has released a letter expressing both pride and sadness as he leaves the department.

Cervera turns 65 this year and is required to retire from law enforcement, per Virginia Beach city code. He will retire May 1 after nearly 42 years with the department.

In the March 9 letter, Cervera said he is honored to have been a part of the police department for the last four decades.

“While this is an emotional time for me and I leave with many memories of almost 42 years with the Department, and City, I also leave with a sense of pride in who you are and in what you will continue to do for our City and County,” he wrote.

Cervera first took a job as a police officer with the Virginia Beach Police Department July 1, 1978. He moved to the area from Montclair, New Jersey.

“While the decision to move was not an easy one, saying good-bye to family, friends and familiarity, I knew that the opportunities in Virginia Beach were well worth the 400 mile drive due south,” Cervera wrote.

The chief touted the department’s high-quality team of sworn officers, who are the “best educated, best trained, best equipped and most devoted officers in our profession,” he wrote.

He continued: “I have always said that life is a sojourn, and the journey is what is important. You have proven that our journey together has resulted in living in one of the safest cities of our size in the country with tremendous support of our citizens and elected officials. As a member of the Board of Major Cities Chiefs Association I have listened to the best practices in our profession and can say to anyone that you have set the bar high for other agencies to emulate.”

The City of Virginia Beach requires firefighters and law enforcement to retire at age 65.

Members of the sheriff’s office in Virginia Beach are the exception: They must retire by age 70.

Some members of City Council, including the mayor, pushed to change the mandatory retirement age back to 67 last year.

At the time, Cervera said he would gladly stay if he was able to.

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