Memphis City Council members voted 12-0 Tuesday for a resolution requesting Mayor Jim Strickland “strongly consider” immediately hiring interim Police Director Michael Rallings.
Council member Edmund Ford Jr., one of the sponsors of the resolution, said Rallings was largely responsible for the peaceful resolution of a Black Lives Matter protest that closed the Hernando DeSoto Bridge for more than four hours July 10.
“With all the things that have been going on since the fifth of this month (when Alton Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, La.), we could have had catastrophic consequences for this city, but we did not,” Ford said.
Ford said he understood Strickland wanting to see the national search for the next police director through to the end of the process to fulfill a campaign promise, but that the council ultimately approves all appointments.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police, which was hired by the city to conduct a national police director search for $40,000, submitted a list of six finalists, including Rallings, to the city Friday. Strickland said the administration would review the candidates in August, after which he would decide who to appoint.
The resolution’s other sponsor, Reid Hedgepeth, said he spoke with six police officers. “Every one of them has gone over and above talking about how they want Michael Rallings to be their director, and they do not want somebody from the outside coming in.”
Hedgepeth added: “Our interim director wants the job as our full time director, and I just can’t vote for anybody else.”
Answering a question from council member Bill Morrison, Rallings said he would be willing to serve through Strickland’s entire first term if he is allowed to remain with the city past his set Deferred Retirement Option Program retirement date in 2018.
Council member Jamita Swearengen echoed Hedgepeth in saying she couldn’t vote for anyone else.
Member Patrice Robinson recused herself from the vote because she was asked by Strickland to sit on a committee reviewing the police applicants.