Plan to rehire Police Director Godwin creates controversy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Plan to rehire Police Director Godwin creates controversy

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Controversy is brewing over an effort to rehire Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin after he retires in April.

Memphis divorce attorney Larry Rice is campaigning to keep Memphis' top cop on the job.

"He's a unique asset that we can't get anywhere else," said Rice.

Godwin opted into DROP, the Deferred Retirement Optional Plan, under former Mayor Willie Herenton.  He must retire April 14.

Rice said the combination of Godwin's vast experience, moderate salary, and the 12-percent drop in crime over the last year make him priceless in a tough city.

"We only pay $119,000," said Rice.  "Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, even Franklin, Tennessee pay more for their director of police than Memphis."

Godwin recently confirmed he is in talks with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton to possibly be rehired.

"If some sort of agreement is worked out, maybe I'll stay on," Godwin said.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert said special treatment could lead to legal backlash by other past employees who were forced to leave.

"He chose to participate in the plan and it is time for him to retire," said Halbert.

The Memphis code states, "no additional years of service or compensation shall be considered."  Rice said the mayor can ask the city council to rehire Godwin.

"I'm not sure how the mayor can posture himself to even consider such a thing when so many other employees have been made to leave, even by the police director himself," said Halbert.

Halbert is concerned that Godwin was already paid extra to retire early and will continue to draw retirement if he is rehired.

Rice said Godwin is worth every penny.

"He's still be drawing his retirement," said Rice.  "But once you add some money on top of that, you can finally make the Memphis directorship, at least for Godwin, comparable to other cities."

A decision could be made as early as this week.  Meanwhile, Rice asked the community to send e-mails of support to the city council and mayor.

Godwin said he enjoys his job, but does not want to be a distraction.  He said he will seek other opportunities if need be.

"I'll work the very last day just like I always do," said Godwin.  "I see nothing changing from that.  When I walk out, I'll walk out.  If I'm not here, if I cross your mind, maybe you'll smile."

Godwin said if he does not stay on, he will recommend three officers from within to take over as police director.

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