Virginia Beach Police Chief put in the hot seat during closed door discussion with officers

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jun 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-16 05:58:18-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera was put in the hot seat Monday night.

The Police Union and Fraternal Order of Police invited him to a forum where officers were allowed to attend and ask him whatever they wanted to.

The meeting was closed to the media and the public. NewsChannel 3 met up with Chief Cervera after it was over.

"The officers asked me a lot of difficult questions, but that's what I appreciate," he said.

Back in late May, Chief Jim Cervera said he could have done a better job of communicating with his officers after 11 of them were removed from the streets and had their actions reviewed by the Commonwealth`s Attorney following four high profile cases.

Monday night, he showed up in plain clothes to the F.O.P. headquarters.  He was the only member of the leadership to attend which was an effort to make the officers feel more comfortable expressing what was on their minds.

"We thank the Chief for standing up there for about an hour and a half being peppered with some very difficult questions," said Brian Luciano, Virginia Beach Police Union President.

They talked about pay and benefits, manpower issues and low morale. NewsChannel 3 was not allowed inside and they would not tell us everything that was talked about.

"This is basically a family discussion, it's among our family. We need to talk about it first before I put anything out to the media on what's going on internally with our family," said Doug Zebley, Fraternal Order of Police.

Chief Cervera said he is working to create a review panel to examine use of force cases; he is trying to better explain to officers why decisions are made and open up direct communication between the chief and his officers.

"It's a courageous thing to stand up there and ask the questions.  It will absolutely move us forward," said Luciano.