Godwin situation could lead to end of DROP program - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Godwin situation could lead to end of DROP program

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Three years ago, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin opted into a program that requires he retire on April 14th of this year.  But one community advocate says a bid to keep the police director in place after retirement could be the spark to put an end to the DROP program.

The can of worms opened when Memphis attorney Larry Rice launched a campaign to rehire Godwin after he retires next month.

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

With crime in Memphis dropping by one-third in the past four years, no one is arguing that Godwin has done an exceptional job.  But now, Memphis City Council members are receiving e-mails like the following about DROP, the Deferred Retirement Optional Plan:

"If director Godwin can stay on after the DROP, then maybe I and some retired employees need to look into coming back to the city," the email says.

Some fear other retirees could sue if Godwin can come back and they can't.  But citizen government watchdog Joe Saino, who's been in constant contact with city leaders, says the Godwin dilemma could be the final straw that puts the DROP program on the chopping block, and clears the way for the police director to stay on board.

"The DROP program's purpose was to tell that administration employee X, Y, Z is going to retire, and we need a training period and they can train this new person," Saino said.

But Saino says job trends make the three-year DROP obsolete, with fewer people choosing public service, and more people working beyond retirement.  And once you DROP in, you can't DROP out.

"You can't revoke it," Saino said.

According to Saino, the wheels are already moving towards dropping DROP.  The mayor's Strategic Business Model Assessment Committee just released a study that recommends DROP "be replaced with a more robust succession planning process or eliminate this program entirely."

"I think the mayor should be able to hire him, but he should not be able to get his pension while he's working under some kind of contract," he said.

Several council members say Mayor A C Wharton has asked to meet with them individually to hear their take on the campaign to rehire Godwin.

You can read the City of Memphis Strategic Business Model Assessment Committee Final Report by clicking here.

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