After Vice-Mayor Calls for Firing, Portsmouth Police Chief Placed on Leave


Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene is on administrative leave “effective immediately and until further notice,” according to an email sent on Friday by City Manager Lydia Pettis-Patton, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Assistant Chief Scott Burke is now leading the department.

City officials have not publicly announced any details about Greene’s leave. The internal announcement comes after the Portsmouth Police Department charged 19 people, including Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and many prominent city leaders, with felonies related to a June 10 protest at a Confederate monument. After the charges were announced, Lucas’ daughter, Vice-Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke, began calling for Greene’s termination. A private citizen then charged Lucas-Burke in a magistrate’s court for violating city code related to termination procedures.

The day after Greene announced the charges, Pettis-Patton said in an email to city council members, “I was surprised and troubled when I was informed that despite acknowledging a Conflict of Interest, Chief Greene and members of the Police Department continued to be engaged without my knowledge.

Greene replied in a press release, “After all efforts were exhausted to have a special grand jury appointed or an outside agency investigate the matter, it was evident that the investigation would be left up to our agency.”

“During our investigation, it was determined that although felonious acts were committed by several individuals, no conflicts of interest for this department were revealed,” Greene added.

Greene became chief of police in 2019 after Chief Tonya Chapman resigned. Pettis-Patton forced her to resign, according to a letter Chapman wrote. Chapman had been with the department for three years, and was the first Black police chief of any Virginia city, according to The Associated Press. Greene served under Chapman as assistant chief; both were hired in 2016. Pettis-Patton is scheduled to retire in December.

“I had been advised of the external strife that existed between the community and the police department as a result of several officer involved shootings and I was also aware of the public friction between city leaders,” Chapman wrote. “Nonetheless, I did not let that deter me from coming to Portsmouth.”

“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 continued.

According to reporting by The Virginian-Pilot, officers said Greene, who is also Black, is not as responsive to concerns about racial prejudice within the department, and in a meeting with officers, said racism was not a problem within the department.

“She didn’t want to hear anything about it,” an officer told The Virginian-Pilot.

Portsmouth City Councilmember Bill Moody declined to comment. Mayor John Rowe did not return requests for comment by press time.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Angela Greene” by Portsmouth Police Department. Background Photo “Portsmouth Confederate Monument” by Doug Kerr. CC BY-SA 2.0.





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  1. […] City Manager Lydia Pettis-Patton resigned Tuesday, one business day after she placed Police Chief Angela Greene on leave, and four months before she was scheduled to retire. That afternoon, in a special meeting, the […]