Top candidate for Montgomery Co. police chief withdraws name for job

tonya chapman
FILE — In this Monday, Feb. 22, 2016 photo, Portsmouth police Chief Tonya Chapman makes remarks after an oath of office ceremony at the City Council Chambers in Portsmouth, Virginia. (Hyunsoo Leo Kim/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

For the second time in two months, a top candidate for the position of Montgomery County police chief has withdrawn from consideration.

Tonya Chapman, former police chief of Portsmouth, Virginia, has notified Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich that she is no longer a candidate to head the 1,300-plus member police department.

Takoma Park police Chief Antonio DeVaul, who was also regarded as a top candidate, removed his name from consideration last month.

Chapman’s letter to Elrich read, in part, “This is truly a difficult decision for me after weeks of going through the process and meeting with various representatives. However, after long and thoughtful consideration, I realize this may not be a good fit; therefore, I am withdrawing my application for personal reasons.”

Elrich said he thinks part of the reason for Chapman’s withdrawal is her recognition that she may not have the votes to get approved by the Montgomery County Council.

“While she didn’t have five votes against her, she didn’t have five votes for her and I think she thought, at this point, it wasn’t worth going through more uncertainty,” Elrich told WTOP Tuesday night.

“I think she had a great resume,” said At-Large Council member Will Jawando.

“[Chapman] would have been a good fit at a critical time for our county and our police department that is dealing with several recent public issues where you had members of our community not being treated as they should be by our police department, which is a good police department.”

In May, a county police officer was caught on video using a racial slur. The video then circulated on social media. Last month, another officer — who has been charged — was also caught on video roughly handling a suspect who was already on the ground.

Tom Manger, the previous county police chief, retired in April.

Bethesda Beat reported Thursday that Elrich will now nominate Darryl McSwain as the next Montgomery County Police Chief, but Elrich would not confirm whether McSwain is a candidate.

“We haven’t sent any name over. We have not done any background checks. We are not ready to confirm anything until we do all of our due diligence,” Elrich said.

Elrich did say that McSwain has expressed interest in the position. McSwain currently serves as the chief of the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, Montgomery County Division.

When asked what he is looking for in a candidate, Elrich said, “I want an openness to change, a sensitivity to the environment in the community, an understanding of people’s concerns about policing and the ability to deal with that without becoming defensive.”

Elrich said he is confident that he’ll be able to select a new police chief soon.

In a statement Tuesday, Elrich said, “Public safety remains a top priority for me and my administration, and I will move expeditiously and carefully to identify a new candidate for police chief for our county.”

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