Va. Beach Police Union: Unacceptable to keep officer off the streets

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach police officer is fighting to get his good name back and his position in the department reinstated.

Officer Mark Rowe was put on administrative duty last year after he was charged with embezzlement. In May, a judge dismissed the charges, but three months later, Rowe is still on desk duty and not back on the streets.

“He has felt like he has been mistreated since day one,” said Kristin Paulding, attorney for the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association (PBA). “Mark loves being a police officer so the accusation, he took it to heart… It was incredibly tough on him.”

Rowe was accused and charged with stealing gun bags from the Police Property and Evidence room last September. It was a charge he fought. A judge dismissed the case in May, but Rowe still hasn’t been reinstated.

“His picture was put out there and the department hasn’t come forward and said that he has been cleared,” said PBA President Brian Luciano.

An internal investigation into the allegations began once the criminal process ended, but the police union is now wondering: What’s taking so long?

“They’ve had plenty of time to conduct an internal investigation,” Luciano said. “I’m not quite sure what they are looking for or waiting on, but they need to bring it forward.”

Since Rowe is on administrative duty, he doesn’t have his gun or badge. He can’t work overtime like most officers.

The union sent a letter to Chief Jim Cervera, calling the three-month delay “unacceptable” and demanding to know what’s the hold up.

“It’s extremely absurd,” Paulding said.  “We’ve waited nine months to go to trial. Mark [pleaded] not guilty. We had our charge dismissed that day and now it’s been three months and he is still sitting on the sidelines, unable to go back with no explanation or answers.”

10 On Your Side asked Virginia Beach police to talk with us about the case.  We were told they would not comment on a personnel matter.  We aren’t alone.

“They haven’t given him any information, they haven’t given the public information and they haven’t given this organization any information,” Luciano added.

The PBA sent that letter to the Chief Cervera four days ago. They requested a meeting with him. If they couldn’t meet with the chief, they wanted a meeting with the city attorney. Four days later and the union has not had any response.