Ex-Norfolk police chief says navigating department’s racial politics was “draining,” contributed to his departure
Former Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone said politics and pushback from within the department led to his departure last year.
Boone told WHRO’s Barbara Hamm Lee he did several things in the wake of the murder of George Floyd that caused a contingent of officers in the department to push for his ouster.
“Having to make a discipline decision where I fired a lieutenant, I knew my days were numbered,” Boone said.
Boone fired former Norfolk police lieutenant William Kelly in 2021 after Kelly used his department email address to donate to the legal defense fund of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who shot three Black Lives Matter protesters in Wisconsin.
During the conversation on WHRO’s “Another View,” Boone talked about the challenges of running a police department as a Black chief and described navigating the racial politics of a police department as “draining.”
“In any police department - particularly for a Black police chief, because we intersect both parties, the Black community and law enforcement - race always comes up,” Boone said, particularly in regard to promotions and discipline for officers.
Listen to Larry Boone's full interview on Another View with Barbara Hamm Lee
Boone is preparing to start a new job as the police chief of Urbana, Illinois.
He said when he was a finalist in a couple of different cities, officers threatened to quit if he were hired to lead the department because of his reputation as “progressive.”
Boone also said Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander gave him a shot, for which he was grateful, but there was also tension between the mayor and police chief.
“Citizens of Norfolk would come to me and say ‘the mayor feels a certain kind of way about you’ and in fact he was a bit envious because my face became the face of the city,” Boone said.
He said that’s going to be different in his new job.
“I have a mayor in Urbanna that doesn’t care how much spotlight I get,” he said.