Portsmouth Police Chief resigns, interim chief named

PORTMSOUTH, Va. – Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman resigned from her position on Monday.

There were no details provided from city officials about why Chapman resigned.

Tonya D. Chapman

Chapman’s professional career in law enforcement spans over 29 years. She became Virginia’s first African American female chief of a municipal police department when she took on the position in February of 2016.

City Manager L. Pettis Patton said Assistant Chief Angela Greene has been named interim Police Chief effective immediately.

Greene earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and pre-law from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1996 and began her career in law enforcement with the City of Richmond Police Department in 2001.

Portsmouth officials said Greene become a patrol sergeant in 2005 in Richmond.

In 2009, Greene was again promoted to the rank of Lieutenant where she served as a sector lieutenant for Richmond’s Southside area. In 2012, she was promoted to the rank of Captain where she served as a watch commander in charge of high-risk operations, major crimes and significant events or incidents.

She has served on the Portsmouth Police Department since 2016, city officials said.

The Portsmouth NAACP issued a statement later Monday regarding Chapman’s resignation, saying black leaders are being eliminated from city positions.

Additionally, the Hampton Roads chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) issued a statement Tuesday regarding what they called Chapman’s “forced resignation:”

We the members of NOBLE would like to stand in support and in solidarity of Chief Tonya D. Chapman and her efforts to change the culture within the City of Portsmouth and its Police Department. 

Chief Chapman was hired in February of 2016 with the mandate to assist in creating the “New Portsmouth.”  Part of that mandate was to assist with establishing a highly ethical, high performing organization that embraces diversity and treats everyone with respect and dignity.  Over the past three years, Chief Chapman has worked toward completing that mandate by reorganizing the department in a manner that better allows the department and its officers to combat criminal activity.  Those efforts have produced a decrease in overall crime for the past three years.  Chief Chapman has also established over 14 community-oriented programs that have been celebrated by citizens, clergy, the business community and other Law Enforcement entities across the region and the country.  These programs fall in line with the goals and objectives that are in line with 21st century policing enhancing relationships within the community.  She has attempted to work very closely with her officers that she leads in addressing a multitude of issues and concerns that have plagued the City of Portsmouth for years and has done so with varying degrees of success.   

As such, we must voice our concerns and condemnation of City leaders for the egregious act that occurred on March 18, 2019.  The despicable and disrespectful way this situation was handled and was misrepresented to the community is unjust and shows the underling factions that work within the City.  We demand answers to numerous questions from City leaders as to how a Chief that has been celebrated by you, has been fired without due process and given very little reason.  Furthermore, this is the second African American Chief of Police and the first woman whose character has been assassinated by the City and the rank and file members of Portsmouth Police Department.

Related: Portsmouth Police Chief launches new initiative to address gun violence

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