NORFOLK, Va. (WAVCY) – Questions linger about why former Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone abruptly retired last year and now there are questions about the unexpected selection of neighboring Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot. Talbot was involved in the screening process for other chief candidates.
Dr. Keith Ivan Jones, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church is a Norfolk Trusted Partner. Trusted Partners is a faith-based leaders group that meets monthly and is made up of Norfolk-based ministers, community and faith-based organizations and city staff.
Jones and other leaders in recent years have partnered with the city of Norfolk in efforts to tackle tough topics such as COVID-19 vaccinations and the ongoing effects of poverty and crime.
Regina Mobley: Was this process less than transparent?
Dr. Keith Ivan Jones: I can certainly say among the trusted partners we did not know about the process as it evolved.
Initially, the process appeared transparent.
In recent days 10 On Your Side has shared the responses from three chief candidates who were questioned about the challenges Norfolk faces as crime is up and police staffing is down.
Another Trusted Partner, Dr. Geoffrey Guns, pastor of Second Calvary Baptist Church, issued a statement to 10 On Your Side hours before the city manager publicly confirmed Chief Mark Talbot secured the position of chief of police.
“I am surprised by the selection process,” Guns wrote. “In our Trusted Partners meetings, we were not informed about where the candidates were from. The new chief brings a lot of experience to the job. I look forward to meeting him and working with him to solve some of the problems we have in Norfolk with gun violence.”
Meanwhile, John Paige, the councilman who represents residents in all Norfolk public housing neighborhoods, the Military Circle Corridor, and property around Norfolk International Airport, is bracing for blowback from Norfolk residents.
“I’m pretty sure we are going to get an ear full at the council meeting on Tuesday,” said Paige of the 4th Ward.
Council member Paige said the nature of the new chief’s selection could damage police/community relations and morale for a police department that is less than 75% staffed.
“Chief [Talbot] was part of the assessment that was overlooking the interviewees for the position,” Paige said. “So the fact that he was selected, that is going to be a challenge we are going to have to deal with it and we are going to have to overcome.”