BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE
OCEANFRONT — Amid recognition by City Council this month of retirements by five people with decades of service to the city, City Manager Patrick Duhaney and Deputy City Manager Steve Cover made a gesture of appreciation to Tony Zucaro, who served for several months as the interim police chief during a challenging time.
Zucaro, a longtime city police officer and leader who served in a variety of roles in Virginia Beach, became interim chief here in May following the retirement of Chief Jim Cervera, and Zucaro served in the role until October, when new Chief Paul Neudigate came aboard.
On Tuesday, Dec. 8, Vice Mayor Jim Wood read a resolution honoring Zucaro during the City Council Meeting held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center at the Oceanfront.
Then Mayor Bobby Dyer noted that Duhaney wanted to make remarks.
“Tony,” the city manager said, “I always told you I could never call you interim or deputy chief because I think for what you stepped into in 2020, there’s no amount of thanks that we can give you. … It has been a hell of a year for law enforcement between Covid-19 and the outcries for change associated with the shooting of African American individuals that lost their lives this year.”
Duhaney said the police department carried a “tremendous burden” keeping the public safe while letting people exercise their rights to speak and protest. Duhaney said Zucaro had probably taken on more responsibility than any police chief here before adding: “We want to give you the honor of naming you police chief on your way out.”
Duhaney and Cover then presented the rank and a shield to Zucaro while the City Council and public showed their appreciation. Zucaro, who was sworn in as an officer here in 1979, said he was humbled and honored for the recognition.
“I often thought after the tragedy in Minneapolis with George Floyd, did I take on more than I would have thought at that time — and clearly none of us in our community would have expected that and the consequences and the human outcry that we saw,” Zucaro said.
“As a member of Team Blue,” he added, “I’m proud to stand before you. I’m proud of the department’s accomplishments as a collective entity. The men and women of our department make Team Blue strong and proud.”
The City Council also honored four other longtime leaders who are nearing retirement. They are:
- Cover, a deputy city manager and former city fire chief who began his service to Virginia Beach as a volunteer firefighter
- Bob Matthias, who oversaw intergovernmental relations for the city and served as the liaison between the city and the local delegation of the Virginia General Assembly
- Mark Johnson, the director of public works who served previously as operations engineer for public works
- Bobby Hill, who first volunteered with a rescue squad in 1968 and more recently led recruitment and marketing efforts for Virginia Beach’s unique volunteer-based rescue system.
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