MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The historic nominee for Memphis Police chief has big ideas for the future of the department and she shared some of them Monday.
The next leader of the Memphis Police Department will have a new title, and if confirmed, will make history as the first Black woman to lead the department and the first to be called “chief.”
“To serve you in this pivotal moment in time is truly the pinnacle of my career,” said MPD Chief nominee Cerelyn “CJ” Davis.
Davis has had a career in law enforcement that’s spanned nearly 25 years. Moving up the ranks becoming deputy chief in Atlanta to the first Black woman police chief in Durham, North Carolina.
Davis emerged as Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s top choice very late in the process, after initially announcing seven finalists that did not include Davis.
That list did include three internal candidates that were passed over for the nomination.
“The overall major issue in his decision is the problem of a person coming from outside to the City of Memphis, and the question is the learning curve,” said the pastor of Greater Imani Church, Bill Adkins.
“I would like the citizens of Memphis to give me an opportunity to get to know who I am and how committed I am, not just to the city of Memphis, but communities that look like the communities I grew up in,” said Davis.
Davis says she has two priorities: community policing and crime reduction, saying you can’t have one without the other.
She also says she’s read the “Reimagining Policing” document that was compiled after several weeks of public town hall-style meetings with the community.
“Many of the concepts that I read were concepts that are important to police reform, managing use of force and being transparent and ensuring we are hiring officers that understand the importance of constitutional and procedural rights for our citizens,” said Davis.
That document also called for police officers to live within the city limits or provide incentives to officers to live in the city they serve.
Davis said in Atlanta and Durham there were no residency limits for officers but they were offered housing stipends and take-home vehicle programs.
Strickland’s choice for chief will now need to be confirmed by the Memphis City Council. That vote is scheduled for sometime in May.
Davis’ last day with the Durham Police Department is scheduled for June 11.