PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 55-year old LaVoris Pace, who has 23 years of experience in municipal affairs, has been spending the last few weeks meeting with school officials, the sheriff, police officials and civic leaders.
Pace is trying to build bridges in the city; Mayor John Rowe earlier this month said Portsmouth was suffering from instability.
But, in what may be his biggest challenge, Pace has to decide whether to fire, keep or delay a decision on the fate of the embattled Police Chief Angela Greene, who was put on administrative leave Sept. 4.
In an exclusive interview in the City Hall Plaza, Pace told 10 On Your Side no decisions have been made on Greene’s employment with the City of Portsmouth.
“I have given her an opportunity to meet with me and we have had conversations — I want to do my due diligence to give her an opportunity to have a conversation and I’ve done that- she is on paid administrative leave as of right now,” said Pace.
Pace said, for now, he is not actively seeking the permanent position as he is busy trying to establish open lines of communication with employees, members of the City Council, department heads, and citizens group.
Rowe told 10 on Your Side the city has contracted with the firm GovHRUSA to assist in the search for the next City Manager. The open position was posted online Wednesday.
Portsmouth made national headlines this summer after the colorful but dangerous destruction of the Confederate monument. A man was seriously injured when a statue was pulled down and landed on his head.
Weeks later, Greene announced felony charges against several high-profile black leaders, including state Sen. Louise Lucas, two officers of the NAACP and a member of the Portsmouth School Board.
“I have given [Greene] an opportunity to meet with me and we have had conversations. I want to do my due diligence to give her an opportunity to have a conversation and I’ve done that — she is on paid administrative leave as of right now,” said Pace.
Leadership changes in Portsmouth have been fast and furious. Greene was placed on leave on Sept. 4. Days later, Greene’s supervisor, the city manager, resigned under pressure and the city attorney was fired.
Pace told 10 On Your Side the duration of the chief’s administrative leave is indefinite.
“Well, based upon the letter that I received, there is no expiration date on that letter,” said Pace. The interim city manager stated a decision on Greene’s employment status will be made after investigations are completed.
10 On Your Side has previously reported Pettis-Patton launched an investigation into Greene because of potential conflicts of interest in the monument investigation. Virginia State Police are also investigating the monument case.
The previous police chief, Tonya Chapman, who said she was forced to resign last March, has called for an FBI investigation of the entire police department on allegations of systemic racism.
Late Wednesday, WAVY News learned of another major change at City Hall. A city spokesperson confirms Human Resource Management Director Elizabeth Gooden resigned Wednesday and the resignation was effective immediately. No additional information was provided regarding Gooden’s departure.
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