Spore made the announcement today, introducing Cervera to City Council as the new chief. He will officially take leadership of the department Sept. 1, according to an announcement from the city
Cervera has been serving as interim chief since former chief Jake Jacocks Jr. retired July 1. He’s the department’s most senior officer, having served as a deputy chief for the past decade.
“I’m extremely humbled and I’m honored,” Cervera said. “I’ve been with the organization a long time.”
Spore said little about his plans for the job until the surprise announcement today. The city solicited bids for a search firm to help find candidates for the position, but didn’t end up hiring one, said city spokesman Marc Davis.
Cervera was the only candidate he considered, Spore said. He said he decided to forego a national search to save time and money.
“When I thought about what Jim Cervera brings to the job, he just exceeded every expectation,” he said.
The last time the chief spot was open, it cost the city $34,472 and took about 7½ months to sort through 50 inquiries and interview six candidates. In the end, Spore selected Jacocks, the top internal candidate for the job.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce Jim’s appointment,” Spore said in a news release. “He possesses an exceptional level of experience, innovative thinking, discipline and commitment to public service – all attributes that Virginia Beach needs to thrive in times that are challenging both economically and socially.”
Councilman Jim Wood, a former police officer who represents the Lynnhaven area, said he applauded Spore’s decision to skip the search.
“Spending the money to hire a consultant to tell us that we had the right guy already here would’ve been a waste of money,” he said. “I think a national search would’ve been appropriate if the department was in trouble, if crime was up and if we didn’t have capable leadership, but we truly do have capable leadership.”
A New Jersey native, Cervera started out as a police officer in Montclair, N.J. in 1976, according to his biography on the Police Department website. On July 1, 1978, he joined the Virginia Beach police and has since led a SWAT team, served on the Labor Day Task Force, which the city formed to prevent a recurrence of the violence that occured during the 1989 Greekfest riots at the Oceanfront, and commanded the Second Precinct, which encompasses the Oceanfront and the northeast sector of the city.
He became a deputy chief overseeing the department’s Operations Division on May 1, 2000, according to his bio. He’s one of two deputy chiefs that help lead the department. The other is Deputy Chief Raymond V. Eisenberg, who leads the Investigative Division. He became a deputy chief Jan. 1.
As chief, Cervera will lead Hampton Roads’ largest police force, consisting of 806 sworn officers, 167 civilians and an $86.7 million budget.
Sam Reid, former president and current programs chair for the Virginia Beach Council of Civic Organizations, said Cervera is well known among the city’s civic leaders.
“He was the only choice in my book,” Reid said. “He’s really tapped into the heartbeat of our city, and if there’s anybody who could step up and take Jake’s place, it would be Jim.”
Reid said he hopes Cervera will focus on reducing juvenile crime and violence in the city, including by cracking down on gangs and keeping school resources officers in their communities during the summer instead of diverting them to the Oceanfront.
Cervera said his priorities will be community policing to identify and address crime trends and recruiting more minorities to the department.
“We have a low crime rate in our city, and that’s not by accident,” Cervera said. “We have an excellent Police Department and we have a tremendous amount of community support, so we’re going to capitalize on both to continue to move the organization forward.”
As chief, Cervera will get a nearly 12 percent raise, from $116,194 in his current job to $130,136 as chief. Jacocks made $141,234 at the time of his retirement.
Category: The New Chief