Golden Valley Makes History, Swears in City’s First Black Police Chief
History was made Tuesday night in Golden Valley as the city swore in its first Black police chief. New Chief Virgil Green took the oath, administered by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in front of a packed city council chamber.
“It’s a very special moment for the city,” said Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris on the swearing-in.
Green will lead a department in transition as it works to overcome a staffing shortage and implement what the chief describes as “21st-century community policing.”
“I never thought somebody from Oklahoma would be in Minnesota,” joked Green, drawing laughter from the audience, which included members of the Golden Valley Police Department and Golden Valley Fire Department.
One of the members in attendance, Alice White, is the city’s assistant police chief, who Green introduced to the crowd.
“This is probably the first time in the state of Minnesota where there’s been a Black male and a Black female to lead a police department, pretty much around the country,” said Green. “So you’re seeing the city step out and do something that a lot of cities have not done before.”
Hire Endures Scrutiny
The new hire did not come without controversy. Green was one of three finalists, along with former interim Police Chief Scott Nadeau and John Franklin, a Chicago Police Department veteran. Nadeau had received an endorsement from Golden Valley police staff, but he later withdrew his candidacy following accusations from the mayor directed at the department.
During the search process, Mayor Harris accused the city’s police department of having “a toxic culture of racism.” The mayor later apologized to Nadeau and members of the community.
“To Chief Scott Nadeau, I apologize for any misunderstanding for my previous statement,” said Harris back in March. “My purpose was not to malign your reputation, or force you to resign or withdraw from the search process.”
Green was one of 47 candidates to apply. While making it through the interview process, he had to answer questions about his background, which included being let go from chief posts at two previous stops, one in Spencer, Okla. and the other in Helena-West Helena, Ark.
“Anybody who had any doubts about that process, I can tell you, that doubt was not something that a lot of people took into concern, because it took over 47 people to apply, and here it is down to one person,” said Green, during remarks he gave after taking the oath.
Green is currently working to bring in new police recruits as the department works to overcome staffing shortages.
“It’s a concern, but I’m not going to say critical,” said Green during a recent interview with CCX News reporter Sonya Goins.
Green says he would like to hire between six and eight officers by the end of the year. The city is currently budgeted for 31 officers.
The new chief also drew praise from the attorney general.
“He’s a tough cop, but he’s also a compassionate person who understands justice and understands we can have strong powerful law enforcement and the rights of all people respected,” Ellison told the crowd. “Those two things are not at war with each other. They actually go well together.”