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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Norfolk Police Chief Hiring Scandal: African American Woman Passed Up for Job in Favor of Insider

Written by: Sam Orlando

Norfolk, VA - Controversy surrounds the recent hiring of a new police chief in Norfolk, as community members raise concerns about transparency and the promotion of diversity within the police department.

According to sources from the hiring committee and City staff, a qualified African American female candidate already working for the City PD was passed over for the position in favor of a male member of the hiring committee. Michele Naughton, Norfolk's first African-American female assistant chief, was one of the three finalists for the position. However, none of the finalists were chosen, and City Manager Larry "Chip" Filer ultimately chose the male candidate for the role.

The decision to overlook a qualified African American female candidate for the position of Police Chief has sparked a growing scandal in Norfolk. Many in the community are questioning the decision-making process and calling for transparency and accountability from city officials.

Filer stated that they started with 40 applicants and those 40 applicants were narrowed down to three finalists, which our confidential sources confirmed included Naughton. However, the city refused to comment on the identities of the other finalists and their individual candidacies.

"We have reasonable cause to believe that the City Manager, Chip Filer, misused his authority and implemented biased practices by selecting a male candidate as the new Chief of Police," stated the Norfolk Branch NAACP #7098 in a press release. "Based on media reports, we understand that the male candidate served as a member of the selection panel and was not an applicant. We have serious ethical concerns and questions about Mr. Filer and the City Council practices and guiding principles of the Norfolk Police Department."

The NAACP is demanding an immediate discontinuation of the current hiring process and for the entire process to be redone in collaboration with the community. They are also calling for the implementation of an NPD Citizen Review Board and an in-depth examination of the police culture, as it pertains to current force-shaping and Community Engagement. Furthermore, the NAACP is requesting a dialogue with Morris & McDaniel Management Consultants and that a Community Town Hall be held to include current updates and discussions. The NAACP noted in their statement that they had attempted to reach out to Morris & McDaniel Management Consultants, and that they never heard back.

Despite these concerns, the City of Norfolk stands by its decision to hire the male candidate. According to Chris Jones, the City's public information officer, the male candidate was evaluated using the same criteria and assessment tools as the other applicants.

"Mark Talbot has been selected as the next leader of the Norfolk Police Department," said Jones. "He has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, including a decade’s time as a chief of police in urban communities. He’s a strong advocate for community engagement, and has been honored for leadership by groups as diverse as the NAACP and the Freedom Foundation." It isn't clear whether Jones knew about the NAACP statement or not at the time of his comment.

The controversy highlights the ongoing struggle for diversity and transparency within law enforcement agencies, particularly in light of the national conversation surrounding police reform and racial justice.

"We demand integrity, transparency, and accountability in selecting our next Chief of Police," said the NAACP in their press release. "Our community’s safety and security are key priorities that cannot be taken lightly or left to chance."

The city's decision to pass over a qualified African American female candidate for the position of Police Chief raises important questions about transparency and the promotion of diversity within the police department. Community members and the NAACP are calling for accountability and a more inclusive hiring process. As the controversy continues to unfold, the future of the Norfolk Police Department remains uncertain.

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