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Portsmouth hires new police chief

February 5, 2016 | Virginia News

News Image By Jonathan Edwards | The Virginian-Pilot

Officials announced Friday they’d hired Tonya D. Chapman, the state’s deputy secretary of public safety and homeland security.

Chapman was previously a deputy chief with the Richmond Police Department. She started her career in 1989 as an Arlington County police officer.

Chapman is scheduled to start Feb. 22, police said in a news release.

Chapman interviewed for the position last week at I.C. Norcom High School. During the public interview, she said she would advocate to unfreeze the half a dozen police positions the City Council froze in May.

“I understand the circumstances which led to it, but the community is suffering,” she said. “The homicide rate went up.”

The city’s homicide rate more than doubled, from 11 in 2014 to 27 in 2015.

Staffing has been a problem for the city’s police department: In December, interim police Chief Dennis Mook said the city has 227 officers. The council froze more than two dozen police positions in May, and Mook previously said he can’t find officers to fill another dozen vacant spots.