© 2024 WKNO FM
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Memphis City Council Narrowly Splits in Initial Vote Against Retaining Police Chief

The Memphis Police Department
Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis is seeking approval from City Council for her reappointment.

Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis’ future leading the department is uncertain after the City Council preliminarily voted on Tuesday against her reappointment by new Mayor Paul Young.

Although the council is slated to make a final decision in two weeks, the initial 7-6 vote to end her tenure reveals some members’ frustrations with her leadership.

They questioned whether the Memphis Police Department was complying with council measures passed in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ death, including an ordinance limiting the kinds of low-level traffic stops officers can make.

Former Mayor Jim Strickland’s stance was the city had no authority to implement such local laws, but Chief Davis said, under her direction, the police department has incorporated them into policy despite internal pushback from some officers.

“This has not been an easy undertaking. Never once did I think that we were not going to implement – on behalf of the family of Tyre Nichols – this particular ordinance,” she told the council and an audience that included both supporters and detractors. “Much work has been done.”

Davis also defended herself against criticism of a lack of support of some rank and file employees and Memphis’ high crime rate.

She argued that “change is uncomfortable” for some officers and that her broad vision includes a focus on repeat offenders and community engagement to deal with root causes of crime.

Mayor Young also spoke on her behalf.

“Are there things that we’re going to have to do to gain trust from the officers and the community – absolutely, but I wouldn’t make this [reappointment] recommendation if I didn’t believe that we can do it,” he said.

Davis, who was appointed by Strickland, has held her position for two and a half years and is the city’s first female to lead the Memphis Police Department.

Katie is a part-time WKNO contributor. She's always eager to hear your story ideas. You can email her at kriordan@wkno.org