NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Following criticism from groups including the local chapter of the NAACP, the Norfolk City Auditor’s Office has released its assessment of whether the process to select a new police chief was handled correctly. It found that City Manager Chip Filer was within his authority to effectively appoint Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot to the position, but it recommends changes to the way some new hires are selected.
WAVY News obtained a copy of the letter the Office of the City Auditor sent to City Council. It states the investigation found no city codes or policies were violated.
“[W]e determined the Chief of Police is considered an unclassified position and serves at the will of the City Manager,” the investigation reads. “As a result, the City Manager has the authority to hire employees without receiving confirmation from the City Council.”
Filer has seen criticism and calls to resign mount since Talbot was announced as the new chief two weeks ago, not just for neglecting to hold a city council vote, but for not including community members in the decision. Talbot had been involved in the screening process for a potential replacement for outgoing Chief Larry Boone and was not included on the list of three finalists.
“We have reasonable cause to believe that the City Manager Chip Filer misused his authority and implemented biased practices by selecting [Mark] Talbot as the new Chief of Police,” the Norfolk NAACP said in a statement released April 6.
The audit notes that while the city manager has the ability to make some hiring decisions unilaterally, nominations by other members of the council require approval by a majority of the body.
“[W]e recommend the Norfolk City Council consider amending the city code to require the City Manager to receive confirmation from the City Council for potential employees hired for positions with significant community engagement and visibility as currently mandated for other Council Appointees to mitigate potential risks,” it reads.
Also on Monday, WAVY learned the city named Deputy Chief Michael Maslow ‘Active Chief of Police’. He will serve in that temporary role for a few weeks. Former Interim Chief of Police Michael Goldsmith retired on April 14 and Talbot moves into his new role May 1.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.