By New Journal and Guide Staff
The Virginia Beach Interdenominational Minister’s Conference (VBIMC) is calling for the immediate firing of City Manager Dave Hansen over his policies which they believe may have contributed to the mass shooting tragedy on May 31 that left 12 victims dead.
In a letter to Mayor Bobby Dyer and the entire Virginia Beach City Council, VBIMC President Rev. Dr. James Allen said comments made by city employees at two recent public hearings in relation to investigating the causes of the May 31 shootings have caused the ministers to question Hansen’s attention to workplace tensions and biases.
“The mass shooting at the City’s Municipal Center, Building 2, is widely believed to have been the tragic result of a hostile workplace environment,” said Dr. Allen, a leader in the church pastored by the father of one of the victims, R. Keith Cox. “After hearing from many of our congregants and attending the listening sessions of the independent investigation, we know this environment singled out women and African Americans, and has been facilitated by Mr. Hansen.”
“We’ve heard about unfair hiring and promotion practices that tend to single out African American, minority and women employees. We’ve heard about unfair disciplinary processes where again women and minorities are singled out for performance problems, termination and forced retirements. We’ve been told how department heads, front line supervisors and middle management seem to be under-trained and unsuited to manage people and provide a safe, employee-friendly atmosphere where everyone is afforded equal opportunity to thrive and grow. Instead, we have persons determined to root out selected individuals and replace them with persons who fit some unstated but very real agenda.”
VBIMC Vice President Dr. Veronica Coleman said, “We didn’t come to this decision lightly. It was done after prayerful consideration and a thorough review of Mr. Hansen’s work performance.”
In its letter, VBIMC criticized the city’s rejection of VBIMC’s past efforts to work with the city to improve race and work environment relations.
“But beyond his personal leadership failures, we are equally alarmed by the climate we believe he has created and fostered within all city departments.
“We believe this climate led to the city rejecting our 5 point, 23 step plan to improve community policing within the city. And let’s be clear, this was a plan requested by the previous mayor. We delivered that plan in September 2016 and to date only a fraction of the recommendations has been implemented.
“One of those recommendations was to create a Citizens Review Panel to look at citizen complaints against police officers. This recommendation was not implemented and as a result a local Pastor in Virginia Beach had no recourse when he was allegedly threatened by Virginia Beach police officers on his church property! The abusive language and attitudes allegedly exhibited by the officers and their sergeant were completely unacceptable and we believe it is correlated to the toxic climate that currently exists within city government.”
The VBIMC said it has previously met with and contacted Hansen following several public incidents during his tenure, including racially insensitive text messages and public comments, and referring to African American college student visitors as “thugs.”
Within hours after e-mailing his bosses at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on May 31, 2019 that he was quitting, Dewayne Craddock, 40, went on a shooting rampage in the building where he had worked for eight years as a public utilities engineer, leaving 11 dead and one soon to die. He himself was shot to death by police.