Watts Brown Command

Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office holds first Promotions & Retirements Ceremony since pandemic’s start

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office recognized some of the staff who have received promotions and those who have retired during the past two and a half years with a ceremony at the Law Enforcement Training Academy on Wednesday. This ceremony was the first in-person retirements and promotions event since COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. This event recognized three promotions and three retirements with a combined 75+ years of service.

The promotions process at the Sheriff’s Office is extremely competitive and weighs deputies’ performance, experience, tenure, leadership, volunteerism, training and education. The honorees were Sgt. Christopher Karnes, promoted from corporal; Sgt. Eric O’Neal, promoted from corporal; and Lt. Karen Johnson, promoted from sergeant.

The ceremony also honored retirees Sgt. Ronny Watts, who served 30 years; civilian James Whiley, Jr., who served 20 years; and Cpl. Michael Brown, who served 16 years.

Sheriff Ken Stolle and Undersheriff Brian Struzzieri congratulated those who earned promotions and thanked the retirees for their dedicated years of service. (See attached photo, left to right, Chief Rocky Holcomb, Undersheriff Brian Struzzieri, Retiree Sgt. Ronny Watts, Retiree Cpl. Michael Brown, Sheriff Ken Stolle)

“The five most important words are, ‘Liberty and Justice for All.’ Those five words mean everything, it’s what these guys dedicated their lives to,” said Sheriff Stolle to the retirees. “These guys chose to give a portion of their lives – 30 years, 20 years and 16 years – to the citizens of Virginia Beach. I can’t thank you enough for putting that badge on every day and coming here and being a model for the rest of the community and for protecting the community. You should be proud every day of what you did on this force. … I thank you for making the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office what it is today.”

Questions or requests for additional information from the news media may be directed to Civilian Public Information Officer Toni Guagenti, tguagenti@vbso.net, or Sworn Public Information Officer Margie Hobbs, mhobbs@vbso.net, or 757.385.8446.