Council member’s probe of city’s employee appeals board expected to be discussed this week

Council member’s probe of city’s employee appeals board expected to be discussed this week

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The case of an MPD detective, who retired amid an investigation into his sexual relationship with a murder defendant, is getting new scrutiny from the Memphis City Council. One council member’s probe of an appeals board is expected to be discussed Tuesday, when council members meet again.

Memphis City Council member Worth Morgan said Sunday he wants to know how many times a city employee recommended to be fired has been reinstated by the city’s Civil Service Commission.

The case of former MPD detective Eric Kelly has raised eyebrows inside and outside of city hall. Kelly, a 26 year MPD veteran, stepped down from the force in November of last year. Kelly was allowed to retire and collect his pension, despite an internal police investigation into his sexual relationship with a murder suspect.

District Attorney Amy Weirich said in a news conference in January no charges would be filed against Kelly.

The Institute for Public Service Reporting at The University of Memphis, who first broke the Kelly story, reported the detective was fired from the force years earlier but got his job back by appealing to the city’s Civil Service Commission.

Council member Worth Morgan asked for a hold to two reappointments to that panel, when council members met two weeks ago.

“This was an opportunity to take a pause, look at some of the case files that have come through civil service, and see if something was off,” said Morgan.

Morgan notes both appointees being held up, Jeffrey Land and Laurice Smith, were not involved with the Kelly case. Morgan indicated this was simply a larger review of the process.

The second-term council member told WMC Action News 5 Sunday that he’s engaged with Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration to gather statistics with respect to cases before the commission, to report back to the council Tuesday.

“This is, unfortunately, what seems to be an ongoing pattern where you keep hearing rumors about it, stories about it at city hall,” he said, “Where we have employees that are behaving badly, have been fired for what we believe is a just cause, and then the civil service commission would reinstate them.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Strickland indicated Friday that his office was working on the topic, but officials had no information to share yet.

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