NORFOLK, Va. - This week, News 3 has obtained copies of internal emails within the City of Norfolk regarding the retirement of Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone.
The correspondence, obtained through a public records request, gives an inside look into reactions of Boone’s retirement between city employees, as well as a peek into how the announcement unfolded internally.
News 3 has decided not to reveal any names or direct titles of city employees within this correspondence due to the frank and candid nature of their reactions to Chief Boone’s retirement.
On April 6 at 1:25 p.m., Norfolk City Manager Dr. Chip Filer sent and email to Mayor Kenny Alexander, Vice Mayor Martin Thomas Jr. and other city council members.
In the email, Dr. Filer writes, “This morning I met with Chief Boone to discuss officer recruitment, retention and the recent uptick in violent crime. At the conclusion of that meeting, Chief Boone announced his intention to retire effective May 1st."
Filer goes on to say he accepted Boone's retirement, Boone’s last day in office will be Friday, April 8, and Boone would use his accrued leave until April 29.
Filer adds, "Chief Boone has made significant contributions to NPD during his time as an officer and as chief and I want to thank him for his commitment over the years."
“He implemented much needed change both within the department and within the communities. I wish him the best as he moves into the next chapter,” Dr. Filer said at a later news conference regarding Chief Boone’s retirement.
Shortly after Filer's email to city council, word gets around to other city employees reacting to the news from April 6 to April 7.
One staff member wrote, “WTF??!!!?!??!?!?!?”
Another email chain between city employees contained the following responses:
"Is this a April Fools joke," one staffer asked.
Another staffer replied, "This is not acceptable!”
"I was in the office yesterday. You can imagine what went on," one staffer said.
"All I can say is WOW," another wrote within the email chain.
"Last day Friday is what had my mouth wide open. I found out about an hour before it went live on the news. I still didn't want to believe it. Now, we just have to see how everything goes," another staffer replied.
One Norfolk Police employee questioned the circumstances around Boone's retirement, writing on April 6,” Maybe he really was forced out.”
Since his announcement, Norfolk residents like JP Paige are standing up for Chief Boone.
“He did a lot of good things for the community,” Paige told News 3. “He put himself in a position where we know him. He was going above and beyond.”
Paige also spoke before city leaders this week where additional retirement compensation for Boone totaling more than $300,000 was approved.
“He was recognized by the Duchess of Sussex for his actions during the social unrest during George Floyd,” Paige said. “There was no riots or disruptions within the City of Norfolk. Let's not forget it.”
Others criticized the idea of more retirement compensation for Chief Boone, bringing up recent concerns of morale within the city’s police department and officer shortages.
“You are losing officers in mass numbers,” one speaker said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “It'll be another devastating blow to the morale of your department and will deepen the wound this hemorrhaging department is experiencing.”
Meanwhile, those like Paige believe the money for Boone is much deserved.
“The way to recognize that as a city, someone that has served and made the sacrifices, is to do just what we did,” he said.
Retiring Assistant Chief T.C. Williams originally had a similar ordinance like Chief Boone's regarding additional retirement compensation slated to be addressed during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Williams’s compensation totaled more than $179,000.
City council members removed the ordinance from the agenda during the meeting.
Wednesday, city officials clarified council members chose not to take that item up for discussion with it being a personnel matter.