VOL. 131 | NO. 130 | Thursday, June 30, 2016
Memphis Lawsuit Over Police Applicants Could Hinge on Nashville Legal Opinion
By Bill Dries
The city of Memphis isn’t entitled to a list of everyone who applied for the job of Memphis Police director and will only get a list of five to six finalists from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
That’s what Memphis’ chief legal officer and city attorney, Bruce McMullen, said Tuesday, June 28, in response to a lawsuit by The Commercial Appeal seeking to make public a list of everyone who applied for the police director’s job by the June 17 deadline.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Shelby County Chancery Court.
“The city does not have possession of, access to, or control of the information sought by The Commercial Appeal,” McMullen said in a written statement. “We contracted with the International Association of Chiefs of Police to provide the city with a short list of five to six qualified candidates for the position of police director. We do not have, nor does our contract entitle us to, IACP’s data bank of potential candidates or persons who have shown some interest in the position.”
McMullen added that once Mayor Jim Strickland gets the list of finalists, the names of those five to six people will be made public.
In May, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued a legal opinion that the Metro Nashville school system had to make public the names of those who applied to be superintendent of the Nashville public school system.
The school system used a search firm to come up with a list of finalists for the job.
But Slatery cited the Tennessee Public Records Act, which states that “records, employment, applications, credentials and similar documents obtained by any person in conjunction with an employment search for a director of schools or any chief public administrative officer shall at all times, during business hours, be open for personal inspection by any citizens of Tennessee.”
Strickland has said he intends to appoint a police director in August and take the appointment to the Memphis City Council for confirmation.