Bolden steps down as Homeland Security director

He was the first Homeland Security director in Shelby County, but Tuesday, James Bolden has quit.

James Bolden has only held the top job at Homeland Security for 14 months.

But has just given his two-weeks notice.  "There is a window of opportunity that I have wanted for a long time to transition to the private sector," he told us in a telephone interview from a retreat near Paris, TN.

From his office near the County penal farm, Bolden oversees funding and resourcing for emergency management agencies in six Mid-Southern counties.

He took the job after his stint as Memphis Police Director ended abruptly amid conflict with Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

Herenton showed up at a traffic stop that turned into a cocaine bust and criticized cops who - he said - were "hanging out and giving the public a bad impression."

Bolden stood up for his officers.  And the Mayor showed him the door.

"Someone needs to tell former Director Bolden that the men and women who serve in blue are not his men.  They're the Mayor's men," said Herenton in August of 2004.

That was then and this is now.

Bolden tells us he has enjoyed his current job but that he now worries regional homeland security dollars will be sent directly to the counties, instead of going through his office and that the office may be left with fewer resources.  "There is some doubt as to the availability of funds as it would apply to the next round of state and federal grants simply because of the way that they would be distributed at that time."

Bolden wouldn't name the company for which he will work.  His last day in this office will be April 1st.

Upon Director Bolden's departure, John Todd will be named Interim Director.  Todd is currently the Homeland Security Training and Exercise Coordinator.  In a statement released today, Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton says he's sorry to see Bolden go.