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VOL. 131 | NO. 131 | Friday, July 1, 2016

Mayor Strickland Defends Anonymity Of Memphis Police Director Applicants

By Bill Dries

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Releasing the names of everyone who has applied for the job of Memphis Police Director would have “a chilling effect” on good candidates for the critical public safety post and “hurt public safety,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says.

JIM STRICKLAND

“I do not know who the candidates are. I do not know how many have applied,” Strickland said Wednesday, June 29, during a taping of the WKNO/Channel 10 program “Behind The Headlines” that will air Friday, July 1, at 7 p.m.

Strickland responded to a lawsuit filed this week in Shelby County Chancery Court by The Commercial Appeal newspaper seeking to make public all of those who applied to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which is conducting the national search for the city.

“I know people in the media. They want headlines. What I want is public safety,” Strickland said. “It would have a chilling effect on people applying for jobs if their application were immediately available to the public. The average person, when they apply for a new job, they don’t want their current employer to know they applied for the job. ... Therefore, good people wouldn’t apply.”

Interim Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings is believed to be one of the applicants for the job, at the urging of Strickland.

The city’s contract with the IACP does not include the city getting a list of everyone who applied by the June 17 deadline. The association will send Strickland a list of four to six finalists, probably in the next week or so.

And city chief legal officer Bruce McMullen said the city will release the names of the finalists.

“I think we’ll have a final selection in August,” Strickland said of his choice for police director, which goes to the Memphis City Council for confirmation.

The city’s budget for the fiscal year that begins Friday, July 1, includes the ability to pay the next police director up to $250,000 a year, a figure Strickland said earlier the city is prepared to offer.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs and defendants in the lawsuit are due before Chancellor Walter Evans at a July 8 hearing.

The lawsuit comes after a May legal opinion from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, who wrote that the names of those who applied to a search firm hired by the Metro Nashville public school system to find a new superintendent are a public record.

Slatery cited the Tennessee Public Records Act, which says such lists and applications for employment “for a director of schools or any chief public administrative officer shall at all times … be open for personal inspection by any citizens of Tennessee.”

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 14 51 326
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 115 606
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0