Lexington’s new police chief gets started

Shauna Muckle

Lexington’s new police chief, Angela Greene, took her oath of office last Monday.

Greene is the first woman to hold the position in Lexington. Her arrival also means the department will have its first permanent chief in over a year after former Chief Sam Roman departed last March.

City Manager Jim Halasz, who hired Greene, said that appointing a permanent chief was important for the city since the chief of police is such a public-facing position.

“Any time you have an interim [department head], there’s a feeling that the trajectory for the department is un-certain,” Halasz said. “[Appointing a permanent chief] allows the new chief to create initiatives in the department and the community because that individual is invested in the department for a number of years.”

The department cycled through two interim chiefs, Mark Riley and Lieu-tenant Mike Frost, between Roman’s departure and Greene’s arrival.

In her first week, Greene has been orienting herself to the basics of the department, Frost said.

“The police chief, like any other new employee when you first start, is a little overwhelmed with everything you have to get done administratively,” Frost said. “The police chief is no different than any other new police officer. She has to be qualified at the range with her firearm and has to be issued a uniform.”

So far, Greene has met about 75% of Lexington’s sworn officers, Frost said. She has also been meeting with various com-munity stakeholders and attended a graduation event at Virginia Military Institute on Friday.

“Everybody seems to be getting along with her very well so far,” Frost said.

Lexington’s police chief oversees all parts of the police department, from patrols and investigations to administrative operations. As the previous interim chief, Frost said he and the other officers “put a lot of effort into setting her up for success when she got here.”

“Thus far it’s been pretty seamless and she’s hit the ground running,” Frost said.

For the first four to six months of her tenure, Greene will likely focus on learning about the department, Halasz said. After that, she may want to make some changes.

Greene previously served as chief of police in Portsmouth, Virginia, a majority-Black city of 94,000 near Norfolk. She was terminated from that position last November after a judge dismissed criminal charges her department filed against 19 individuals, including a state senator, in connection to a Black Lives Matter protest last June. The charges alleged that those individuals were involved in the vandalism of a Confederate monument, according to the New York Times.

Greene filed a $15.4 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the City of Portsmouth on April 9. According to her attorneys, the city and city officials retaliated against her for complying with Virginia laws.

Halasz said Greene informed him be-forehand of her plans to sue her former employer. He also said he understood her reasoning.

“Her point was, ‘my officers made good arrests. Laws were broken, and I had to back up my officers,’” Halasz said. “I think [her termination] was a debatable action. If I was in that situation, I might want to make sure that could be removed from my record.”

Now that Greene has moved on to Lexington, she said she wants to make her time in the city “a big part of her career,” Halasz said.

“There was a commitment that I thought was real to stay here in Lexington for the sake of the community and the department,” he said. “She worked in those larger cities and understood some of the drawbacks, and was searching for a community where she could really truly be engaged with the community.”