Tonya Chapman is the first black woman to lead a city police department in the state of Virginia. She said in a statement on Monday that she was forced to resign from the Portsmouth Police Department after attempting to eliminate the racism and discriminatory behavior within her department.
“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,” Chapman wrote in the four-page statement, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
According to the publication, Chapman describes “external strife” between the community and the police department, saying she “knew the difficult task ahead” of her but was “up for the challenge.”
“Some quite frankly did not like taking direction from an African American female,” she wrote, contending there were “some politically connected individuals that never had confidence in me in the first place.”
According to report Chapman abruptly resigned on March 18 after three years on the job. She reportedly did so under the direction of City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton, who requested she sign a pre-written resignation letter “under duress” and “without warning” or face termination. As severance, Chapman said she was offered two months pay.
“Citizens of Portsmouth, I ask you, if I had done anything to warrant my immediate dismissal, would I have been offered a severance?” she wrote in her statement.
Chapman reportedly declined to elaborate further on what prompted her forced resignation but stated it was motivated by “members of a highly influential fraternal organization” who had tried for years to instill a lack of confidence in her capabilities. She claims that some of the individuals involved were recently disciplined for undisclosed policy violations.
In her statement, she issued a formal request for her severance to be extended to six months, as well as a positive recommendation for future employment citing a 52-percent drop in homicides in 2016, among other accomplishments during her tenure.
“I assure you I did not ‘quit’ on the citizens of Portsmouth,” Chapman wrote. “My mother did not raise me to be a quitter.”