Local leaders call on Virginia Beach to hire minority police chief, bring more diversity to other management positions

Virginia Beach

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) –The images have been disturbing- peaceful protesters hit with batons, rubber bullets, teargas, and tasers.

Protesters in Virginia Beach have also complained of heavy-handed police response and the acting police chief this weekend apologized for a controversial letter that urged business owners to hide their valuables.

Monday morning in a live radio talk show on WPCE-AM, Crusade for Christ, a member of the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference demanded change. Minister Gary McCollum says his organization presented a reform plan four years ago, and they are still waiting for reforms. “We have had our George Floyd moments in Virginia Beach,” said McCollum

Minister McCollum and a member of the Virginia Beach Minority Busines Council are calling on Virginia Beach to hire a minority police chief. Clarence Neely, who has decades of experience in law enforcement says it’s time for Virginia Beach to hire a minority to lead law enforcement for the city of 450,000 residents.

“An African- American leader in a law enforcement position would have more of a scope on how to relate to those different cultures,” said Neely.

Petersburg Police Chief Kenneth Miller confirmed to WAVY-TV 10 that he has applied for the job. He served the Virginia Beach Police Department for 30 years in various roles including commander of the SWAT team. He describes his style as transformational and adaptive. “You have to have passion that cannot be measured but people will see it,” said Miller.

Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone told WAVY-TV 10 two leaders in the community called upon him to apply for chief’s job in Virginia Beach but he declined. According to city records in Virginia Beach, recently retired police chief, Jim Cervera earned 167,000 dollars a year; city records in Norfolk show Chief Boone earns 182,000 dollars a year.

Councilman Michael Berlucchi supports calls for a minority chief but adds management diversity is needed in all levels of government

“I endorse the city of Virginia beach hiring a minority police chief, fire chief, and senior managers all across the board,” said Berlucchi. Berlucchi is also President of Hampton Roads Pride and he urges city hall to hire managers who know how to effectively communicate with members of the LGBTQ community.

“Whether it’s LGBTQ or other minority communities, we have work to do.”

Virginia Beach has the challenging task of finding a new city manager and a new police chief. Berlucchi says 100 people have applied for the manager’s position. At this point it is unclear whether the acting manager or the new city manager will hire a new police chief.

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