NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander delivered his State of the City address on Thursday, a day after the sudden retirement announcement for the city’s police chief.

Here are a few highlights from Alexander’s speech:

  • After starting off by discussing COVID-19, Alexander quickly shifted to crime and public safety after recent shootings in the city. “Let me be clear. We will not tolerate crime in the city of Norfolk or Hampton Roads region.”
  • Support for NATO and Ukraine: Norfolk is the North American home to NATO, and Alexander said “we stand ready to support NATO and in solidarity with the people of Ukraine who are risking their lives for freedom and democracy.”
  • Alexander said last week, the city received an additional $150 million toward the Ghent-Downtown-Harbor Park barriers to help with flood mitigation and coastal resilience and that the project will be an example for other coastal communities to learn from.
  • NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith will build “78 at St. Paul’s Place” on the current Brambleton Lot across from Scope. It’ll be mixed-income residential with commercial units on the 1st floor. The city will a build parking garage that will also be used as overflow for the Scope.
  • Alexander said the city will break ground on the St. Paul’s redevelopment project in the fall.

The announcement of Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone’s retirement comes after a series of high-profile shootings downtown, including the recent quintuple shooting that left a Virginian-Pilot reporter and a semi-pro football player dead, and the triple shooting at the MacArthur Center mall over the weekend that left a man dead.

City Manager Chip Filer made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon.

Boone’s last day leading the department will be Friday and his last day with the force will be April 29. He’s been chief for more than five years and has been with the department since 1989.

Boone said in a statement that the move was his decision, but several sources familiar with the situation, but not authorized to speak publicly, told 10 On Your Side that Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander and other council members gave an ultimatum to Filer following recent violence.

Alexander denies that happened.

“No person on the council, we don’t have the authority to hire or fire the police chief,” Alexander said. “My opinion is [Boone] is a phenomenal person. He is an amazing guy. And I wish him and his family the very best.”

Deputy City Manager Michael Goldsmith, who served as chief for four years, will serve as interim police chief.

Alexander told 10 On Your Side he believes that Goldsmith will do fine until another chief is selected.

Since that quintuple shooting on March 19, the Norfolk Police Department has increased patrols around downtown Thursdays through Saturdays, and officers and city workers have made unannounced visits to restaurants and “entertainment establishments” that have conditional use permits (CUPs) to check for city code violations and to “provide a visible presence in the area.”

Alexander laid out a list of short and long term steps at the State of the City address to tackle violence head-on including gun buyback programs, code enforcement and looking into business licenses, security camera upgrades, street lighting upgrades, expanding license plate readers, and working with state and federal law enforcement agencies to implement anti-violence strategies.

The department currently is more than 200 officers short (just over 520 officers are currently on the force) and officers have asked for pay better pay and benefits.

Alexander told about 100 officers in attendance at Wednesday night’s public hearing for Norfolk’s next budget that on top of the 5% raise proposed in Filer’s budget, the City Council is asking for an additional $2.3 million included for step increases for public safety personnel who’ve been working with their departments for six or more years.

“What we’re hearing, what council members are hearing is there’s a pay inequity with our department verses some surrounding departments. We want to address what we’re hearing with pay inequities,” he said. 

Alexander covered cover other topics, including sea level rise and other climate change challengesupgrades at the city’s port, the return of the city’s Harborfest and the newly acquired Patriotic Festival set for Memorial Day weekend.

After his address, Alexander said he believes people left inspired. 

“I think they’re excited, energized, and ready to participate. I think they’re ready to be a part of this amazing city,” he said.