Lieutenant Michele Meister
Lieutenant Virginia Beach Police Department
Lieutenant Michele “Shelly” Meister started her Law Enforcement career in 1999 as the first female on a nine-person department in rural Pennsylvania. She built incredible relationships with her brothers in blue, but she craved more opportunity. In 2002, she transitioned into the Virginia Beach Police Academy and moved through the department in various positions to include Uniform Patrol, Oceanfront Summer Bike Patrol, Property Crimes Detective, Prescription Fraud Investigations, and Narcotics Detective. She was promoted to Sergeant in June 2013 and returned to Uniform Patrol Operations. In November 2014, she took over the department’s Ready Response Team, a unit that utilized a hybrid of tactical and investigative means to address major crime trends throughout the city, and identify and apprehend career offenders. While leading this unit, she was solicited to move to the Detective Bureau, and in September 2016, she assumed responsibility of the department’s Special Victims Unit. As the Sergeant of the Special Victim’s Unit, she worked closely with the YWCA, Chesapeake Forensics, CHKD, and a myriad of other advocacy groups to help cultivate a victim-centered/trauma-informed philosophy within her unit. By collaborating with the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), Lt. Meister conducted peer reviews of the police department’s Sexual Assault Response Field Guide and created a “resource and options” brochure which is provided to every survivor of sexual assault in Virginia Beach. During her two and a half years as the SVU supervisor, she worked alongside her detectives to obtain departmental funding to create the area’s first Adult-Trauma Informed Interview Room, and her squad received the 2018 Cape Henry Rotary Club’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award; the first time ever awarded to an entire unit. Lt. Meister found this to be one of the toughest, but most rewarding assignments of her law enforcement career, however, she wanted to pursue her goal of promotion. In January of 2019, Lt. Meister sought professional growth as an Internal Affairs Investigator, and began to focus on the Lieutenant’s Assessment Center Promotion Process. She successfully competed in the process and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in May 2019.
In addition to her primary responsibilities on the police department, Lt. Meister believes in creating strong relationships within the community she serves. In April of 2016, she was approached by the Deputy Chief and asked to create the department’s first LGBT Liaison position, which was fully integrated into the department by May 2016. This position is in addition to her other supervisory responsibilities, and since her appointment she has been involved with numerous community events, recruiting programs, and helped create departmental Cultural Diversity training focusing on law enforcement response to transgender issues and same-sex domestic violence investigations. She works closely with the City of Virginia Beach, the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission, Hampton Roads Pride, and the LGBT Lifecenter to build bridges between the LGBT and Law Enforcement community. She is also one of the founding members of the Hampton Roads LGBT First Responder Consortium.
One of Lt. Meister’s firmly held beliefs is, “Leadership is not about making yourself the best, but making those around you better”. In keeping with this philosophy, Lt. Meister is a Department of Criminal Justice (DCJS) Certified General Instructor and Firearms Instructor, and she teaches a variety of courses at both the recruit academy and in-service training. One of her proudest accomplishments is being a certified instructor for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Leadership in Police Organizations course. This is a 3-week, intensive leadership training program focusing on individual, group, and organizational theories of motivation and leadership, and she is one of four subject matter experts on the Virginia Beach Police Department certified to teach this course. Additionally, Lt. Meister is both a graduate and certified instructor of the IACP Women’s Leadership Institute and a graduate of the FBI LEEDA Command and Executive Leadership Institute. Lt. Meister is a member of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and serves on the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Hampton Roads. Lt. Meister believes in giving her knowledge and experience back, and she thrives on coaching and mentoring those around her. At every rank, Lt. Meister has emphasized training, education, and diversity to enhance the professional growth of the future leaders of her department, and she currently serves as the Director of Training for the department’s Professional Development and Training unit.
In addition to her professional experience, Lt. Meister has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology, with a minor in Psychology from Penn State University, and was a Division I Field Hockey Goalie for the Nittany Lions from 1992-1996. She did two training tours as a member of the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Travel Team in 1993 and 1995 and was an assistant coach at Wake Forest University. In 2006, Lt. Meister earned her master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Troy University while simultaneously co-chairing the Mid-Atlantic Association of Women in Law Enforcement Conference hosted by Virginia Beach. In October 2014, the Commonwealth of Virginia legalized same-sex marriage and in May 2015, Lt. Meister was finally able to marry the love of her life, and partner of 16 years, who is also a Lieutenant with the Virginia Beach Police Department.