PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — On her third workday on the job, Portsmouth’s new city manager Tonya Chapman fired Police Chief Renado Prince.
The day after the announcement, Chapman issued this statement on Prince’s ousting, saying that she did not take the decision lightly.
As the City Manager of Portsmouth, like any other leadership position, you must be able to make difficult and unpopular decisions. Whenever I am considering terminating an employee, I do not take this decision lightly. I hired Mr. Prince when I was the Chief of the Portsmouth Police Department.
I realize that you may have many questions, but this is a City of Portsmouth personnel matter, and I cannot comment about the reason or any details due to privacy rights.
Public safety is going to be a top priority. Interim Chief Stephen Jenkins, upon assuming the role, will be reviewing and recommending additions or changes to our Crime Prevention &
Violence Reduction plan. I look forward to getting the input of the citizens as we continue to
discuss crime and violence prevention.Tonya Chapman, Portsmouth City Manager
The first official confirmation of Prince’s departure came from Peter Glagola, the city’s recently hired director of marketing and communication, who stated in an email Tuesday, ” “It is with regret that we announce that Police Chief Renado Prince is no longer with the city of Portsmouth, as of July 5, 2022.”
No other information surrounding Prince’s departure was officially released.
Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke received some additional information. She said Chapman called and told her Prince was terminated due to a “breach of trust.” When she asked what that entailed, Chapman said she had to go call other council members.
“Can I have one day without being given a headache?” Lucas-Burke said.
Prince exits his role after only 10 months on the job.
He’s the latest casualty in a more than month-long period of turbulence in a city known for messy politics.
It was Chapman who first brought Prince to the department. Chapman, who served as the city’s police chief from 2016-2019, hired Prince in 2018 as one of her assistant chiefs.
Following the termination of Chapman’s successor in 2020, Prince was selected by former City Manager Angel Jones to lead the department after a public hearing. Portsmouth citizens praised the process.
However, Prince was under the microscope from the get-go as the city faced woes of the nationwide gun violence epidemic. While Prince celebrated the fact that the city had no homicides in the month of March, year-to-date homicides are up 50%.
Prince recently sat down with 10 On Your Side’s Jon Dowding to discuss the department’s new plan to prevent and respond to summer crime.
The proactive “holistic approach” involved the community’s participation in addition to violence interrupters, trauma counselors, multi-agent operations as well as a helping hand from Virginia State Police among many more actions.
Prince told 10 On Your Side that addressing violent crime from a community-focused perspective could serve one main purpose.
“Getting to know the citizens. We have to be a part of the community, not apart from the community. That’s the way we do it,” he said.
It is unclear what will become of the plans following Prince’s ousting. Following the termination of Jones, however, Vice Mayor DeAndre Barnes commented that the “crime plan looks like it was written by a ninth-grader.”
Assistant Chief Stephen Jenkins will assume the role of interim chief effective immediately, Glagola said. Jenkins has been with the department since 2003.
Calls to Chapman, Prince and the Portsmouth Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) have not been returned.
Mayor Shannon Glover would only say the city attorney called to inform him of an “action” taken Tuesday.
Many council members declined to comment citing language in the city charter that makes it a crime to interfere with a subordinate of the city manager. However, it does not prevent them from commenting on it.
In the last month-and-a-half Portsmouth City Council abruptly voted to fire former City Manager Angel Jones. After fights among council members, Chapman was ultimately chosen to fill the post, three years after she resigned from her job as top cop.
Council voted 4-3 to approve Chapman’s $200,000 a year contract, in addition to a $10,000 a year car allowance. Chapman will also be reimbursed for her moving expenses from Arlington.
Community activist Barry Randall said Chapman should be ashamed.
“For her to come in and get rid of a guy the way she was gotten rid of and a person she brought her to Portsmouth to begin with is very disappointing,” Randall said.
Randall said Prince was supposed to be a part of his “Town Hall on Violent Crime” panel.
“in the last two weeks, we’ve had half a dozen shootings,” Randall said. “People need to be able to ask questions.
Attorney General Jason Miayres, (R-Va.), Del. Don Scott, (D-Portsmouth) and Sheriff Michael Moore are all expected to attend. The event is scheduled for Thursday July, 7 at 6 p.m. at New First Baptist Church (Taylorsville) in Portsmouth.