Portsmouth PD chief responds after sending controversial email to officers

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – An email sent by the police chief regarding morale within the Portsmouth Police Department is not sitting well with some officers.

Chief Tonya Chapman sent the following message to all department employees on May 25.Sgt. Matt Crutcher, president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, says he received complaints from officers who expressed concern over the tone of the email.

“[Officers] are telling me they are offended by it. They felt like it was a personal attack and that’s why we want to meet with her,” said Sgt. Crutcher, who has requested a meeting with the chief.

Chapman, who joined the department in 2016, says the goal of the email was to help employees “recognize different personalities” and inspire them to bring a positive attitude to work.

“It’s just a small group of individuals that do not like the direction the department is going and they try to bring everyone else down,” said Chapman. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to engage the community, to build trust and reduce crime.”

Officers who sent the email to 10 On Your Side wanted their thoughts to remain anonymous to avoid any backlash at work.

“We are completely unconfident that our department will have our back,” said one officer. “Why are we going to put our lives on the line for a city that doesn’t care?”

Officers also raised concerns about aging equipment, including patrol cars, and blamed the department for “pushing incapable officers through training just to get a body on the street.”

Chapman says the city has recently dedicated “over $1 million in equipment,” including 60 new police cars, new body cameras and in-car cameras.

In reference to training officers, the chief says all recruits go through a police academy and must complete field training.

“We are not going to jeopardize anybody’s safety to put [officers] on the street because you are jeopardizing the officer’s safety, the citizens, as well as their co-workers. We would not do that,” said Chapman.

The chief says building trust in the community and reducing crime are her top priorities.

She says she recently launched “Real Talk” sessions during roll-call with officers so they can air any grievances on a more regular basis. Chapman also says her door is always open for employees who have complaints.

“We are moving this ship forward and I just need everyone to get on board.”

Sgt. Crutcher says the meeting between the FOP and the chief has not yet been scheduled.

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