Former Portsmouth, Va., police chief Tonya Chapman has pulled her name from consideration to become the next police chief of Montgomery County, further stalling what has become a seven-month effort to find a new top cop in Maryland’s largest county.

“It is with a heavy heart and much deliberation that I regretfully informed the county executive that I am withdrawing my application,” she confirmed via text message Tuesday to The Washington Post, adding, “My withdrawal is for personal reasons,” without being more specific.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, County Executive Marc Elrich said that Chapman did not have support from the nine-member County Council, which would have had to confirm her.

AD

“While she didn’t have five votes against her, she didn’t have five votes for her,” Elrich said. “I think she thought at this point it wasn’t worth going through more uncertainty. . . . She probably figured she needed to have a break and go on.”

AD

Elrich committed to naming a new nominee soon.

Montgomery County’s most recent police chief, J. Thomas Manger, left the post this year after 15 years heading an agency that now has 1,300 sworn officers.

Elrich has said the county received more than 20 applicants, who were narrowed to several finalists, including Chapman, Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul and Montgomery County interim police chief Marcus Jones, a longtime veteran of county police.

AD

But after another cut, Elrich (D) was down to Chapman and DeVaul, with Chapman seen as the front-runner. A short time later, DeVaul removed his name from consideration.

While Elrich had not formally nominated Chapman, he had signaled for six weeks that she was his choice.

Chapman’s was touted on July 16 in a letter from the county executive to the County Council. Elrich praised her experience and qualifications, writing, “I believe she will be a great addition to our county.”

AD

“We need somebody from outside the force, I think, who can bring a fresh look at how we do things,” he told WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi on Aug. 2.

Hiring from the outside for chief is not new for Montgomery: Manger and his predecessor each came from a different department.

AD

From the beginning, Chapman’s name prompted concern from within the council.

Chapman has held an array of law enforcement positions, from street officer to a senior-level policy position with the Virginia governor’s office. It was her most recent post — as police chief for the city of Portsmouth, a post from which she was forced to resign — that became an issue for many council members.

“We need to dig deeper and do everything within reason to find out what happened,” council member Gabe Albornoz (D-At Large) said several weeks ago. “This is an extremely important position.”

AD

Chapman, who is African American, had suggested her departure from Portsmouth was rooted in racism. Her direct supervisor, also a black woman, has said Chapman’s leaving was based on the quality of her leadership.

AD

That Jones, the interim chief, had been passed over has been a source of frustration for many police officers and community leaders. A veteran of the Montgomery County force for more than 30 years, he has held command posts in the Silver Spring police district, the narcotics bureau and the major-crimes bureau. Before his current role, Jones served as assistant chief in charge of investigations.

Elrich said Tuesday that he would not be reconsidering Jones for the post.

AD
AD