PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene has been placed on administrative leave with pay for 30 days pending the outcome of an internal investigation, a source told 10 On Your Side Friday.
The city confirmed that Chief Greene is on paid leave and that Assistant Chief Scott Burke will serve as interim chief. Burke, a 22-year veteran of the force, has served as assistant chief for the past two years.
The details of the investigation are not clear at this time, but Greene has been under intense scrutiny after the department charged State Senator Louise Lucas and other prominent Black community members in connection to a demonstration at the Portsmouth Confederate monument, in which the historic structure was painted and damaged.
Lucas and 18 others are facing felony charges in the case including conspiracy to commit a felony and injury to a monument in excess of $1,000. The first 14 charged were arraigned Friday morning.
A group that includes Lucas, Lucas’ daughter, Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas Burke, and Lucas’ lawyer, Del. Don Scott, has called for Greene’s resignation, saying Greene and police neglected their duties on June 10 by not making arrests during the demonstration. A part of the monument was pulled down that night, severely injuring a protester. In an update in early August, his family said he was conscious and relearning how to walk and speak.
The news angered supporters of Greene. Some of whom immediately went to city hall in protest at the urging of Virginia Beach resident Tim Anderson.
“We oppose the idea that the chief of police should be suspended for doing her job,” Anderson said, assuming the move was related to the monument controversy.
Anderson, who also happens to be an attorney and gun shop owner, has been active in supporting Greene since Senator Lucas called for the firing of Greene, after Greene told the press an “elected offical” told officers they couldn’t arrest anyone vandalizing the monument. Police body camera video from the scene capture Lucas doing just that.
Anderson launched a recall petition to remove Lucas from office but thus far has not gathered the required number of signatures. Lucas in return has sued Anderson for defamation.
The situation has garnered statewide attention with prominent Democrats labeling it as another example of racial injustice. Questions have been raised about the timing of the charges. Lucas was served warrants the day before she was to be in Richmond for a special legislative session on criminal justice reform.
Chief Greene’s Tenure
Angela Greene has served in law enforcement for more than 20 years but arrived in Portsmouth as an assistant chief in 2016 under former chief Tonya Chapman.
She was appointed by City Manager Dr. Lydia Pettis Patton as interim chief in March 2019 following Chapman’s resignation and promoted permanently to the position in June 2019.
Chapman, who is black, has said she was forced out for trying to make changes in what she described as a racist culture within the department. Greene, who is also black, has said she had not seen such widespread behavior.
While Greene did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday regarding being placed on leave, the Confederate monument ordeal revealed recent lack of communication between the chief and her boss, Pettis Patton.
Several hours before the press conference was called where Greene announced the initial charges against the 14 in connection with the protest, Pettis Patton,, sent an email to City Council saying Greene should not have been involved in the investigation because of a self proclaimed conflict of interest. She also said she had not heard about any decisions being made concerning the investigation until Aug. 17, the same day Greene announced the charges.
While Greene responded in a statement that there ended up not being a conflict, it was discovered the sergeant who who took out arrest warrants in the case, wrote a fiery letter to council before the investigation began saying “If Sen. Lucas wants to place blame on anyone for this incident, she should start by looking in the mirror.”
In the a text thread obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Greene said she would launch an internal investigation into the matter. 10 On Your Side has not been able to confirm if that ever happened.
There are also questions regarding comments Greene made about the Virginia State Police.
Greene said during her press conference Aug. 17 that state police concluded an “accident investigation” into the protest at the monument on July 22. A spokesperson with the VSP however said it is still an open investigation.
Regardless, Deanna Stanton, who lives in Portsmouth, wants Greene back in charge.
“She has actually brought law back to our city,” Stanton said Friday outside city hall. “This is not a black thing, this is not a white thing. This is about laws, this is about laws that matter in our city. And until we have people standing up enforcing those laws … for all, not for some people but for all people. We are going to continually regress.”
Stanton and Anderson are calling for Pettis Patton to be fired by city council if Greene isn’t reinstated. Pettis Patton has already announced plans to retire at the end of the year.