Interim Portsmouth chief says she never saw ‘racism’ described by Chapman

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth’s interim police chief spent Wednesday evening defending the department’s culture, leaving residents more confused about the recent change in leadership. 

Angela Greene, who has served in the Portsmouth Police Department since 2016, ascended to the rank of interim chief on March 18, following the resignation of Tonya Chapman, who left the department after three years on the job.

Greene, who also worked for the Richmond Police Department, stated she had no indication that her former boss planned on resigning. 

I do not know to circumstances that led up to that incident, Greene said.

Chapman issued a four-page letter Monday morning alleging City Manager Dr. Lydia Pettis Patton forced her to quit. She pointed to racism from some members of the Fraternal Order of Police as a possible reason for her ousting.

In my experience here in almost three years. I do not see that, I do not have that perception. I do not see that has a problem here, Greene said. I have not experienced any extreme racism … If there are any issues that I felt underlying, overt or covert. I would take corrective action. I would not stand for that.

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Members of the community, as well as the NAACP, peppered her with questions on how she will measure that a racist culture won’t exist. 

[Police officers] are human beings. Everyone comes here with implicit bias. Through education and training, they are able to still work and provide the training that they have too.

Greene said she plans on continuing all the positive initiatives that have been started since 2016.

“We are only going to increase that and make it better, Greene said. “Make the officers more accountable, more community partnership, more community engagement.

Yet some in the community still didn’t leave with a “fuzzy feeling.

“What I heard was, I am not aware of any problem. But going forward, this is what we are going to do. I think there is a real disconnect there. You can’t say, ‘there is no problem,’ But going forward we are going to fix some things, said Regina Davis, a Portsmouth resident.

Ultimately, she wants to hear the facts from the City Manager who has yet to return requests for comment.

The following statement was released by the Minority Police Officers Association Thursday:

Over the past two weeks, our City and especially our Department, has experienced an increased level of scrutiny from the local and national media that was brought to the forefront by the firing of Chief Tonya Chapman.

As members of the Minority Police Officers Association we find these recent events troubling at best, but shows a continued pattern of underlying issues that has plagued our department for decades. We want to make it clear that the vast majority of our counterparts within this department work very hard to protect ALL citizens within this city. However, we would be remised if we do not acknowledge the other percentage of officers who make every officer in this department look bad because of their known bias and perceived racist behavior that has morphed into “warrior mentality.” We are aware of not only poor treatment of minority officers (to include women) within this department but also even poorer treatment of minority citizens within this city. We know this because the minority citizens often complain to us and we ask that they come forward and have it put on the record. Furthermore, we want it known that the Portsmouth FOP and other supervisors were working towards a vote of “No Confidence” as we had members present at that meeting in May 2018. We are aware of and have knowledge of the constant undermining by supervisors of Chief Chapman’s goals and direction for the department as well as the blatant disrespect shown and inappropriate comments. We find it troubling as well that both senior and junior officers continued to be subjected to these same behaviors within the rank and file of this department. In addition to all these events, we have issue with the fact that a ranking minority supervisor within this agency can be called a racial slur and our counterparts would rather support and rally behind this person and his statement as opposed to condemning as they should. This is that “thin Blue Line” that everyone wants you believe that does not exist.

We are here to support Chief Greene as members of her department. We will continue to support the vision and the goals city and the police department but we cannot sit idly by while deliberate untruths are being told. We encourage all minorities within the Portsmouth Police Department and within the City to reach out to us at the email address listed below so that these occurrences can be documented for future use and accountability.

about our department. We have several incidents or officers reporting racist encounters from departmental members. While we wish to make it known that we are in no way saying the entire department is racist, however there are a select few that have exhibited what we feel to be racist behaviors.

Sincerely,

The Minority Police Officers Association Portsmouth

MPOA@gmail.com

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