Memphis police director ordered to resign

Published: Aug. 16, 2004 at 3:02 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2004 at 8:05 PM CDT
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The Memphis police director and his top deputy were forced to resign Monday. Director James Bolden said he doesn't know what he did to cause his dismissal, ordered by Mayor Willie Herenton. Herenton's office said the mayor had no comment. Herenton and Bolden got crossways last week because of a traffic stop and drug arrest by Memphis police officers. Herenton witnessed the routine arrest -- as he just happened to be passing by. He stopped to chastise the officer for what he perceived to be "horseplay." Shortly after the incident, Bolden issued a statement defending the officers. Herenton has complained before that some officers spend too much time hanging around convenience stores and goofing off. Bolden said at a news conference that he and Deputy Director Ray Schwill were told to clean out their desks by the end of the day. Deputy Chief Larry Godwin was named as interim Director until a new Director can be found. Godwin is currently Deputy Chief of Special Operations. He has been with the Memphis Police department for 31 years.

Ousted Police Director James Bolden joined the Memphis Police Department in September 1968, only months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. In 1973, he became founding president of the Afro-American Police Association, leading many of the battles against racial discrimination within the MPD. He became chief inspector of the department's training division, but retired in 1997 when his position was phased out. He then worked in corporate security for FedEx and as a liaison in the Governor's Highway Safety Office. In 2000, then-Police director Walter Crews lured Bolden back to the Memphis police department as deputy director. When Crews retired, Mayor Herenton named Bolden the city's top cop in early 2003. Deputy Director Ray Schwill was involved in one of the most significant events in Memphis Police Department history. He survived the 1983 Shannon Street shooting, that left his partner, and seven men who held him hostage dead. In April 2003, Schwill was promoted to deputy director, in charge of day to day operations of the police department. Both men were forced to retire.

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