NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Norfolk branch of the NAACP doubled down on its protest of the new police chief, packing city council chambers during Tuesday’s meeting and calling for the ouster of City Manager Chip Filer.
“We demand that the Norfolk city council immediately vote to remove Dr. Larry ‘Chip’ Filer from his role as Norfolk City Manager, and discontinue the hiring process of Mark Talbot as Chief of Norfolk City Police,” Stacie Armstead, branch president, said as she addressed the council.
About 30 NAACP members and supporters stood during her statement to show support.
The group is taking aim at Filer for his handling of the Norfolk Police Chief search. Last week, Filer tabbed Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot to run the department. The selection surprised many, as Talbot assisted with the search process and wasn’t a candidate.
Filer solicited the public for input on the search. However, Armstead told 10 On Your Side the group was assured it would be consulted in the process, which never happened.
“He sat in on the last three finalists’ interviews and in the end he gets picked,” Attorney Amina Matheny-Willard told the council. “That on its face seems like a conflict of interest.”
Some speakers expressed their support for Talbot as a police chief.
“Chief Talbot has a sterling record of success and community engagement, the work he has done in Hampton speaks for itself,” said Second Cavalry Baptist Church pastor Jeffrey Van Guns.
Mayor Kenny Alexander wouldn’t answer questions following the meeting, but he released a statement last week.
“Choosing the process and ultimately selecting a police chief are both the responsibilities of the city manager,” Alexander wrote. “In fact, they are at the sole discretion of the city manager. I have no authority, not council members, over the process and selection of a police chief.”
Armstead suggested that the city charter could change to alter the city manager’s latitude over such decisions.
“There must be a discussion,” Armstead said, “about the power, authority and democratic accountability of the city manager.”