VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Tuesday morning, local media representatives had the opportunity to ask the newly-appointed Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate a few questions ahead of his official start date next month.
City Manager Patrick Duhaney, who is also from Cincinnati, had a role in filling the position.
Neudigate says the two have a great working relationship and he knows his expectations, which he believes will be an asset.
During the video chat Tuesday, he spoke on a wide range of topics, from improving officer morale to easing community tensions.
Neudigate comes from the Cincinnati Police Department and has more than 30 years of experience.
He’s the assistant police chief there now, where he’s been heavily involved in anti-gun violence initiatives.
“I want them to know me just like they do in Cincinnati. You will know me on a first-name basis. You won’t have to worry about who the police chief of Virginia Beach is,” said Neudigate.
In the first 90 days, he says he’s going to listen to the community and officers to find out where they stand on community relations.
He’ll also be taking a look at the department’s processes to see what needs to be tweaked.
“Then, giving the deputy city manager and city manager an assessment of any critical programs we need to implement long-term,” he explained.
He starts this new role at what some call a polarizing time, with protests popping up nationwide.
He says in Cincinnati there’s not a person or small group in charge of the protests, so it’s been hard to offer help.
But he realizes that’s not the case here, with Black Lives Matter 757 organizing many of the big ones in Hampton Roads.
He wants to sit down and talk with their leaders to see where things can improve.
“I’m going to put myself out there. It may be uncomfortable, it may not be well received, but that’s my job,” Neudigate said.
One of the challenges he faces, according to Virginia Beach Benevolent Association president, is boosting the currently low department morale.
Neudigate says he believes coming in with a fresh outside perspective will help with that.
“We know we become very insular how we operate and it’s good for us to have an outside look. One of the biggest things will be initial meetings with rank and file… I’m dedicated to listening, I’m dedicated to following up, and I think they’ll find their concerns don’t fall on deaf ears,” he said.
Neudigate’s first day will be Oct. 14.