Godwin says he will retire in April as planned - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Godwin says he will retire in April as planned

Police Director Larry Godwin Police Director Larry Godwin

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin will retire as planned in April. Godwin made the announcement at a press conference early Friday afternoon.

Godwin, who became Director of the Memphis Police Department in 2004, has come under scrutiny recently because of his participation in the city's DROP program.

DROP, or Deferred Retirement Option Plan, is open to employees of the city with at least 25 years experience.  It allows participants to collect interest on pension payments until their retirement.  However, once in the plan, employees must retire on the date they specified.

Under the plan, Godwin is scheduled to retire on April 14.  However, he came under criticism after he said he would be willing to continue as Police Director if appointed by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

But Friday, Godwin said he would not return as Police Director.

"I have contacted the mayor, spoke to him about 45 minutes ago, and I have advised him that I have decided to retire effective April 14, 2011," he said at the press conference.

Speaking at his own press conference less than 90, Wharton pledged to seek out a strong replacement for Godwin.

"There will be absolutely no break in leadership, I can tell you that," he said.

Wharton said he doesn't know if he'll have to appoint an interim director, but the city will seek the services of outside expert agencies as it searches to fill the position.  He also would not commit to whether or not the new police director would come from inside the department.

"I'm open minded," he said. "I want the best person."

Godwin said the decision to go through with retirement was his own, because he does not want to be a distraction.  He plans to work through his very last day on the job, and help insure that the transition to a new Director is smooth and orderly.

"I will retire with the confidence that the department will continue to be led by dedicated and motivated leaders," he said. "I know I will be leaving the Memphis Police Department on solid ground."

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