VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The city’s top cop could remain on the job for another two years under an idea floated by Mayor Bobby Dyer.
Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera will turn 65 next spring and by city code, he must retire by the end of that month.
At the end of the Virginia Beach City Council work session Tuesday, Dyer proposed raising the maximum retirement age for a city police officer and firefighter from 65 to 67.
“I will state up front, Chief Cervera and I have been friends ever since he was Sgt. Cervera in 1990,” Dyer said. “I just want to state up front…that I have a personal concern over age discrimination.”
Cervera, who has been on the force since 1978, recently told 10 On Your Side he would gladly stay on if given the opportunity.
“Policing has been my whole life,” Cervera said. “I also have three other guys that would be forced out if this isn’t changed.”
Cervera sat silent inside the city managers conference room as Dyer pitched what he called a “compromise.”
Just last week, council voted unanimously to lower the mandatory retirement age for sworn sheriff’s deputies from 70 to 65 in order to align with police and fire.
Sheriff Ken Stolle was also present Tuesday, but stayed silent.
“We just got to make things aware that we respect and value everybody,” Dyer said. “As a physical therapist, I can tell you that life span is getting longer and improving…if we have the ability to keep people…hopefully we can broker that compromise.”
Dyer wasn’t alone in his viewpoint.
Councilwoman Barbara Henley said, “The unfortunate thing is that this has become a personal thing with one position, and I absolutely do not see it that way at all.”
Henley said with recruitment being down and a possible need for more security following the mass shooting, the city may need to have police officers on the job longer.
But in a recent survey conducted by Virginia Beach’s police union, 138 out of 150 people said they would not be in favor of council raising the mandatory retirement age of first responders to 70.
Council members John Moss and Rosemary Wilson both indicated they would like more data and background on what changes would mean, before moving forward.