Cerelyn “CJ” Davis begins first day as Memphis chief of police

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Cerelyn “CJ” Davis has taken the helm of the Memphis Police Department.

“It’s really important for me to get my arms wrapped around getting acquainted with the people that will be working with me,” Davis said.

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Monday morning, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland pinned Davis as the city’s new police chief. Later in the morning, she attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Liberty Park development at the Mid-South Fairgrounds.

Davis was previously the Chief of Police in Durham, North Carolina.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Davis has “an outstanding career in law enforcement as an officer and a leader.”

Strickland said the new chief has a strategic vision to reduce violent crime.

Residents are looking to the new chief to help build relationships between police and the community.

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“I take the oath very seriously, the commitment very seriously, and was really happy to have the leaders in the police department there with me to formalize the team we will be working with,” Davis said.

As she started her new job, Davis reinforced the importance of community relationships.

In Memphis, gun violence has been described as a public health epidemic as the number of murders and violent crimes has risen in recent years.

In 2021, there have been 133 homicides reported in the city, according to MPD.

“It’s important to meet people where they are,” Davis explained. “Boots on the ground, not just myself, but my team as well.”

To do so, she plans to tour some neighborhoods and speak with community activists.

“We have to work with community members to find ways to prevent crime. Not just respond to crime, but find ways to make our community a safer place to live.”

As the past president of the National Association of Black Enforcement, Davis testified before Congress after the death of George Floyd, advocating for reform in police training, use of force and accountability.

Davis has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in General Administration.


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