Interviews continue for Memphis’ new police director, interim appointed

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 7:07 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The City of Memphis says it needs more time to find a new police director.

On Monday Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland extended the timeline, announced a new finalist and named an interim police director, who will start next week after current police director Mike Rallings retires.

The city is bringing in a new candidate, Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, the current police chief of Durham, North Carolina.

City of Memphis Chief Human Resources Officer Alex Smith says Davis was originally presented as a finalist in March, but had to back out because of personal reasons related to the timeline.

But now she’s back in.

“The timing seemed more right for her to be able to come into the process and so she expressed interest in coming into the process,” said Smith.

Davis joins seven other finalists under consideration.

Smith says the goal is to have panelists of community leaders interview Davis starting this week.

Dr. Bill Adkins, the founder and pastor of Greater Imani Church, was among the panelists who interviewed the first seven finalists for nearly an hour each about their approach to policing.

“Indeed, I was quite surprised that an eighth candidate popped up,” said Adkins.

Some of the finalists’ records have been called into question.

At least three of them, including Davis, have been fired from previous jobs for various reasons, according to news reports.

Others have been criticized for their handling of controversial police matters.

“We asked the pertinent questions that needed to be asked,” said Adkins. “Some of the questions were tough, but we wanted to know what their thoughts were in several areas, especially in the landscape of America today with the George Floyd murder trial going on right now.”

Smith says the city is doing its due diligence examining the backgrounds of each finalist.

“This is a very important decision. The mayor does not take this lightly,” Smith said. “He is thoroughly looking at each candidate, understanding their body of work, their accomplishments, over the course of their career.”

Strickland appointed deputy director James Ryall to serve as interim police director when Director Rallings retires next week.

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