She proudly served the Commonwealth of Virginia as the first Black woman chief of police. Now, Tonya Chapman is addressing the controversy surrounding her untimely exit. 

The Washington Post reports Chapman left her role as Portsmouth police chief on March 18 without explaining her resignation. Citing a personnel reason, city manager Dr. Linda Pettis-Patton refused to discuss her departure.

In her first remarks since leaving, Chapman said her fellow deputies could not accept receiving commands from a Black woman. 

"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 statement obtained by The Virginian-Pilot. "Some quite frankly did not like taking direction from an African American female. Further, I would contend that there were some politically connected individuals that never had confidence in me in the first place."

However, Chapman added a small margin of officers harbored these views, while the rest of her team performed their duties without pushback.


"The good news is that I can assure you that this was a small contingency of the police department as most of its members are passionate about their job as law enforcement officers and treat our citizens with respect and dignity while upholding their constitutional rights," she continued. 

The Washington Post reports more officers were reluctant to adapt to the community activist mindset, which included perusing neighborhood streets following a homicide. 

"Cops want to be cops," Ed Schardein, a retired Portsmouth captain argued. "The officers are told to go out and walk in the community after a major crime has happened. That's understandable. But that's not what's happening in Portsmouth. They're just going out there to shake hands and say everything is fine."

Chapman's resignation took a Portsmouth lawmaker by surprise, who said she saw no hints of decision makers expressing frustration about Chapman's conduct.

"The community is saying that Dr. Patton was being used to do somebody else's dirty work," Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke said to The Virginian-Pilot. "I don’t know which way to look, and it makes me nervous because I’m probably dealing with some of these same people. I've had an upset stomach for the past week trying to digest all of this and not having any answers. People are calling me and saying, 'What the hell is going on?' I don’t know what to tell them."

Despite their differences, Portsmouth NAACP chapter leader James Boyd argued Chapman is the latest casualty of systemic racism, and he refuses to remain quiet about the matter.

"We're going to stand up and tell the truth and those who don't like it, well, they're going to just have to deal with it," Boyd said in a news conference Monday, per ABC News 13. 

Despite her questionable tactics, one thing remains clear: Chapman has the endless support of a close family member.

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