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Portsmouth Police chief fired after less than a year as head of department, councilwoman confirms

Renado Prince.PNG
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 23:38:47-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Portsmouth’s newly hired City Manager Tonya Chapman has fired Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Prince, News 3 has learned.

Prince has led the department for less than a year, having taken office in Sept. 2021.

We reached out to Portsmouth City Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke, who confirmed Prince's firing.

"Confirming YES! This is insane," Councilwoman Lucas-Burke said via text. "Reason as was reported to us is allegedly a breach of trust."

"It was actually a breach of trust, and I said, 'Oh, OK.” That kind of took me aback. I said 'a breach of trust' because it’s a lot of mistrust going on with council lately,” Lucas-Burke said in an interview with News 3 reporter Leondra Head.

Lucas-Burke added that there was no explanation given for the "breach of trust." She said the council has questions and told us she heard more changes could be coming.

"I don’t know what the breach was, but it seems to fall right in line with what the agenda of the four members that brought her on," Lucas-Burke said.

She said she believes Prince was given an ultimatum.

"City Manager Chapman released him [Prince]. I believe it was an ultimatum - either get fired or resign. I think those were the two options, and I think he chose to get fired so he could have some kind of severance," Lucas-Burke said.

Chapman, newly hired as city manager, fired Prince after being in her new role for less than a week. Portsmouth City Council members recently appointed her on June 14. She replaced Angel Jones, who was ousted from the position in May.

Chapman also served as the city's police chief. She was the first African American female chief of a municipal police department and abruptly resigned from the city's police department in March 2019, stirring controversy. She took on the position in Feb. 2016.

tonya chapman.PNG
Tonya Chapman

"I’m pretty much surprised and not surprised because of the rumor. I knew the rumor was that he would be next that Chief Prince was one of the names that was on the list to be fired once Chapman was brought on," Lucas-Burke said.

Lucas-Burke says she’s hoping for the best for Portsmouth.

"Whatever this cancer is that is seeking through and soaking through the City of Portsmouth, I hope we can get it resolved soon," Lucas-Burke said.

We reached out to Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover, and he told us he could not confirm or deny Prince's firing. He said, "I was notified from the city attorney that an action was taken," but when asked what that action was, he told us he couldn't say.

The city, however, provided the following statement and confirmed that Assistant Police Chief Stephen Jenkins will assume the role of interim chief of police:

It is with regret that we announce that Police Chief Renado Prince is no longer with the city of Portsmouth, as of July 5, 2022, Assistant Chief Stephen Jenkins will assume the role of interim Chief of Police for the Portsmouth Police Department effective immediately.
City of Portsmouth

Chapman issued the following statement Wednesday night:

As the City Manager of Portsmouth, like any other leadership position, you must be able to make difficult and unpopular decisions. Whenever I am considering terminating an employee, I do not take this decision lightly. I hired Mr. Prince when I was the Chief of the Portsmouth Police Department.

I realize that you may have many questions, but this is a City of Portsmouth personnel matter, and I cannot comment about the reason or any details due to privacy rights.

Public safety is going to be a top priority. Interim Chief Stephen Jenkins, upon assuming the role, will be reviewing and recommending additions or changes to our Crime Prevention & Violence Reduction plan. I look forward to getting the input of the citizens as we continue to discuss crime and violence prevention.
Portsmouth City Manager Tonya Chapman

She will host a press conference on Thursday, July 14.

Stay with News 3 for updates.