Portsmouth, VA — Tonya Chapman, who made history as the first Black woman to be Police Chief of a city police department in Virginia three years ago, says that city leaders and some members of the Portsmouth Police Department have forced her to resign. And she believes that it was racially motivated!
“As with any organization, there were officers in the department that did not like my style of leadership and did not want me to hold them accountable for their actions,” Chapman wrote in a four-page statement. “Some quite frankly did not like taking direction from an African-American female.”
Although Chapman did not directly name any person for using race as a reason, she indicated she had continuously noticed some in her department who did not want her as chief of police and often sought for any chance to establish a “no confidence” vote against her.
She also implied some incident that she decided not to make public because those are “so inflammatory” and is a “concern of public safety.” She added that she would rather discuss such information with the “appropriate government entity.”
“Having been a member of two other law enforcement agencies, I have never witnessed the degree of bias and acts of systemic racism, discriminatory practices and abuse of authority in all of my almost 30-year career in law enforcement and public safety,” she wrote.
Chapman ultimately revealed that City Manager L. Pettis Patton caught her off guard when he asked her to resign. Upon resigning on March 18, she said she was given only two months severance pay instead of six months she thinks she should get along with a good recommendation from the Portsmouth Police Department.
“I can assure you that I did not ‘quit’ on the citizens of Portsmouth. My mother did not raise me to be a quitter. She raised me to be a strong woman,” Chapman wrote. “As such, my resignation was not tendered under my own volition. This was a forced resignation and our City Manager was the conduit.”
Meanwhile, Patton and any other member of the Portsmouth City Council have not made any comment yet regarding Chapman’s departure. Assistant Chief Angela Greene has been named interim Police Chief since Chapman resigned.