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Virginia Beach Police Chief responds to concerns about employee satisfaction survey

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jun 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-03 20:22:43-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - For the second time in a week, Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera has admitted he needs to communicate better with his officers.

The Chief posted a statement to the VBPD’s Facebook page on Wednesday morning:

A couple of recent news stories have highlighted concerns raised by some employees in response to a City of Virginia Beach employee survey from October 2014. The City of Virginia Beach surveys its employees on a range of issues every other year. We do this specifically to determine members’ satisfaction with their employment. The Executive and Command Staffs have reviewed the overall scoring of the most recent (October 2014) member survey.

As we poured through all of the results we were pleased to note that the scoring has remained consistent since 2006.  I find that this is a reflection that our officers are consummate professionals who are continually asked to do more with less.  In all the years that I have been a cop I can attest to the fact that the pressures of being a police officer in a 21st century civil police agency, working in a democratic society, are greater than ever before.  We have seen a large increase in added responsibilities with no staffing increases, officers have seen their days off cancelled or adjusted to meet operational needs, and they have experienced decreases in overtime to meet budgetary constraints.  They are stretched, and that was the impetus to ask for additional staffing over the next 5 years.

We know that one of the top concerns of the Department has been pay and compensation.  While this has been an issue for the last 6 years and was at the time this survey was conducted last fall, we are pleased that City leadership included a 4% pay increase, a minor increase in pay compression and a return to the college tuition reimbursement program in the upcoming budget.

We do a pretty good job in establishing transparency and legitimacy in the community. Internal transparency and legitimacy is another issue. I am going to explore better internal communication options and address other issues, from timelines for internal reviews and the equitable application of policies to training and staffing.

I have briefed the Mayor and City Council and provided updates to the city manager about steps we are taking. As chief I continue to support the men and women of this department and assure you that we will continue to work through these issues together.

In an interview with NewsChannel 3 last week, Chief Cervera admitted he could have done a better job explaining why numerous officers were placed on administrative duty.

The move came after recent shootings and forceful arrests in the department.

All of the officers have since been cleared by the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

However, in Wednesday’s statement on Facebook, the chief was responding to recent concerns from a 2014 Employee Satisfaction Survey.

Chief Cervera says while he believes the department has succeeded in being transparent with the community, he wrote “Internal transparency and legitimacy is another issue.”

Last week, Cervera told NewsChannel 3 he has a plan to fix that.

“We have been working on it for a couple of months, but this brought it to a quick head…We are going to kind of reboot our training, and beginning this September through the fall, everyone will get a refresher course on all of our use of force training and all of our use of force policies from the chief all the way down to the line operation officers to the guys that really do the job,” he says.

And the Chief says that job is something they’re always looking to improve.

Related: 

Virginia Beach Police Chief talks about morale and department review of four high profile cases

Virginia Beach officers cleared in three recent shooting incidents