MPD director warns of job challenges as retirement looms

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 10:21 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings said his replacement is going to have to be like “Jesus and walk on water”  because the job is so difficult and all-consuming. Rallings is leaving the job in a month and his replacement has not yet been named.

“You’re going to need Jesus,” said Rallings. “I mean because we’re asking police chiefs all across the nation to walk on water.”

Rallings didn’t mince words when he told Rotary Club members it’s a tough job.

Related | MPD director says he will retire in 2021

“Very seldom are we able to spend time with our families so I think you’re going to need just a very dynamic person but one that just has to have compassion to serve and not, I guess, really think about themselves,” he said.

And that person needs to be chosen soon. Rallings retires in mid-April. The City of Memphis spent more than $60,000 hiring the International  Association of Police Chiefs to help conduct the search.

Related | New MPD Director expected to be appointed by March 2021

The city said at the end of last year the candidate would be chosen to present to the Memphis City Council for approval by mid-March. Memphis City Council member Ford Canale said COVID-19 has slowed the process.

“I fully expect the mayor tO bring someone before us at some point in April for approval,” said Canale.

Councilmember Martavius Jones says there was a specific reason the mid-March date was chosen.

“That date was in mind to allow for some shadowing of the individual who will be the new police director to give them the ride along and shadow our current director Rallings before he retires,” said Jones.

The city will get input from community leaders and activists as well. Canale says that is already happening.

Rallings says Memphis presents some unique problems.

“The 27th largest police department in the nation and probably inside the toughest city in the nation,” he said.

Rallings says Memphis’ high violent crime rate will have to be tackled along with hiring more officers. Right now there are about 2,000 officers. The goal is to have 2,500 officers.

It has not been revealed if the choice for the police director will come from outside or inside the police department.

”I don’t want to influence the decision one way or another,” said Canale. “Personally, I think we have several great options right here in town that know the landscape and know the community well.”

The city told me the process is continuing as the International Association of Chiefs of Police is doing the evaluation right now and the city should have something very soon.

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