NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer formally introduced current Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot as Norfolk’s next police chief during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Norfolk began its search for a new police chief nearly a year ago. Former Police Chief Larry Boone’s last day with the department was April 29.
The city at the time anticipated the search would take five months, but it took considerably longer.
Deputy City Manager Michael Goldsmith served as the interim police chief.
On Wednesday, Filer began the briefing by thanking Goldsmith, who announced he is set to retire on April 14.
“Mike, I can never express my gratitude for your service,” Filer said. “There’s just no words. Not just this past year, but over your entire career here in Norfolk.”
As part of its search for the next police chief, the city held public forums, launched a public survey and interviewed 25 qualified finalists, narrowing that list down to three candidates. There was also no consensus in the public survey data.
“What’s happening here today is in no manner any demotion or any demerits against the candidates that we had. This was ultimately a decision that I made,” Filer said.
Filer revealed during the media briefing that Talbot was not one of those three finalists. He admitted none of the finalists felt like a good fit, but emphasized this was not a criticism of the candidates.
Talbot was actually on the committee that was helping Norfolk search for a new police chief.
Filer had discussions with Goldsmith, where they agreed Talbot checked every box Norfolk residents wanted in a police chief. Filer reached out to Talbot to gauge his interest in the position. Talbot formally applied and went through the same interview process all candidates did, working with the consulting firm Morris & McDaniel.
Talbot told the media during Wednesday’s news conference that if you asked him 30 days ago where he would be, he’d say the Hampton Police Division. He never thought becoming Norfolk’s top cop was an option.
“It’s clear to me that Chief Talbot has all the traits that I am looking for in a new chief and also all of the traits that the residents have been asking for as I searched for a new chief,” Filer said.
He said some of those traits include being a planner and a strategist.
With the announcement, Talbot becomes the 35th Chief in the Department’s 226-year history. They are hoping to have Talbot transferred over to NPD by May 1. Goldsmith has agreed to help with the transition.
“In my career and just generally speaking as a police chief, you seek out cities. They don’t seek you out,” Talbot said. “When Dr. Filer called me and spoke to me about the possibility of coming to this great city, the only thing that a police chief does is say that would be an honor.”
Talbot, who has more than 30 years experience in law enforcement, was sworn in as Hampton Police Chief in 2021. He said he is leaving the Hampton Police Division a lot sooner than expected, but is walking away from an organization that he said is strong and capable of handling challenges.
In accepting the position, he voiced this message to the Norfolk Police Department, “We will work together, shoulder-to-shoulder, to make this city as safe as possible.”
Talbot said he is honored and humbled to have been chosen as the next police chief in Norfolk.
Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck called Talbot’s career move disappointing, as it seemed like he had just started. “Great deal of disappointment because he’s only been here about 21 months but again, we understand he made the decision he believed in as best for himself and his family,” Tuck said.
During the start of his career in Hampton, statistics showed crime was down almost 30 percent. However, the start of 2023 was plagued with crime. Just in January, there were 15 shootings, 20 victims, and 9 of those died.
Mayor Tuck said the city has seen less violence in the last couple of months, something he attributed to Talbot’s work.
“I think he’s done a lot to continue to decline and violent crime and we’ll just have to see what happens with the next person who comes aboard.”
Norfolk community leaders like Bilal Muhammad, President of Stop the Violence, welcomed Talbot and hope he can make a change.
“His reputation precedes him. He has good strategy in working on reducing crime in Hampton, so we welcome him with open arms.”
Hampton NAACP released this statement about Talbot:
“We are saddened to see Chief Talbot leave the Hampton Police Department; however he has left our police department stronger and better. Chief Talbot is a strategist and understands true relational policing. Not to mention, he stopped the use of coercive policing methods, indiscriminate stops, searches and much more. We wish him well in serving the citizens of Norfolk.”Gaylene Kanoyton- President, Hampton NAACP
The filled vacancy in the Norfolk Police Department leaves one at Hampton Police. In the past, the Hampton City Manager along with community leaders have chosen the chief.
Tuck said some people are already in mind to take Talbot’s place.
“We have people in position right now, who one of whom was the interim police chief during a time when we were conducting our search and I think we have an experienced Deputy chief.”
Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting said in an email to the Hampton Police Division and department directors that she “was shocked” to learn Chief Talbot was leaving Hampton for Norfolk.
“First and foremost, I want to assure you that the Hampton Police Division has the City Council’s and my unwavering support,” Bunting wrote. “We are proud of the work you are doing. We will ensure that HPD gets an outstanding Chief who can continue to implement strong evidence-based strategies, such as those Chief Talbot brought to Hampton. You deserve, and will get, nothing less.”
Bunting said she had already begun conversations with council, Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell, key city staff and some trusted community leaders on “how to best ensure a smooth transition.”
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.