Faith leaders call for more input from the community on naming new MPD director

MEMPHIS, TENN. — Faith leaders in Memphis are calling for more transparency in the search for a new police director.

Wednesday, the Memphis Interfaith for Action and Hope stated that that they’re asking the City Council to arrange for an opportunity for the local community to ask questions and get to know the candidates before the Mayor chooses the new director.

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“It doesn’t matter if the majority of people say we feel fine. If you have even a small group of people who feel disenfranchised, that group is still a part of the community that needs to be heard,” said MICAH founder Rosalyn Nichols.

The organization said it all goes back to trust and community policing. They’re wanting to develop that between the public and whoever becomes the next person in charge of hundreds of police officers in the city of Memphis.

“It is a critical role we all play. The mayor selects, the city council approves, but if you don’t hear from the people who have to live with those decisions then you left a vital piece out.”

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So, they’re proposing a virtual live streamed question and answer session hosted by the City Council or the Mayor’s Advisory council on Re-imagining policing.

“The youth has been asking for an opportunity to be at this table since October. The youth has submitted letters to the mayor’s office and the city. They can be heard and then candidates can tell us where they stand, what their visions are for Memphis and policing in Memphis so they can know what that would look like going forward,” said MICAH Vice President Janiece Lee.

But the Mayor says he doesn’t think it’ll work.

“There’s no evidence across the country that those forums lead to a better selection. Very few people would take part in it. It wouldn’t be a cross section of the city. We have interview panels that are truly across sections: neighborhood leaders, nonprofit leaders, the activist who led the largest peaceful protest all last summer,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Monday, the city announced the search will take longer than expected not long after an eighth candidate was added to the candidate pool. Director Mike Rallings is expected to retire April 14th.