MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Where is Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis?
WREG’s Marybeth Conley asked Memphis mayor Jim Strickland that question Wednesday after Davis declined public comment following a fatal triple shooting that took place this weekend in front of police officers on Beale Street.
Davis released a statement via email following Sunday morning’s triple shooting on Beale, and appeared at public events Saturday at a town hall in Orange Mound, Tuesday at the announcement of a new witness relocation program, and Wednesday morning speaking to students at Kirby High School.
But so far, Davis has refused four requests from WREG to speak with the public, and there was no news conference following the Beale shooting — or, as Conley pointed out, at the scene of rapper Young Dolph’s shooting death in November and a shooting at Cummings K-8 school in September.
“(Are you) concerned about the perception that Chief Davis is leading from behind the desk, or not?” Conley asked the mayor.
“There is not that perception,” Strickland responded.
Strickland struck back at the notion that the chief, who previously worked in the Atlanta and Durham, N.C. departments before taking the top job in Memphis last year, wasn’t leading just because she wasn’t speaking with local media.
“I think you’re confusing talking to you, the media, and leaders,” Strickland said. “She is leading the department and, first-hand, working on these things.”
Davis held a press conference later the same night of Young Dolph’s death, urging calm in the city. Strickland said she’d also been working at the scene, though she did not speak to media.
He pointed out that he’d talked to WREG twice in the past two days, and was ready to answer questions. The mayor, to whom Davis reports, said that was sufficient access.
Tacquan Smith, 26, a local rapper and father of four with one on the way, was killed as shots rang outside The Green Room on Beale early Sunday morning. Two more were injured. Police officers were just a few feet away on the street, and at least one officer was involved.
As of Wednesday, Memphis Police had not announced any arrests or suspects in the case, and said they had no updates to provide on the case.
Strickland, repeating what he told WREG on Tuesday, again addressed club hours on Beale Street, saying they may need to close earlier to keep the street safe.
“I think we ought to have a long-term discussion about why these bars are staying open until 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning,” Strickland said. “Coaches always say nothing good happens after midnight. Why are we having to pay a lot of overtime and having a situation down there when these bars are open?”
The Downtown Memphis Commission has announced a $5 security fee on weekend nights after 9, and extended hours for metal detector wanding to enter Beale Street.
Davis has been the victim of crime twice since moving to Memphis, once when one of her service weapons was stolen from a vehicle, and again this month when her new home under construction in East Memphis was burglarized. Two teenagers have been charged with the theft of her gun.
Memphis broke records in both 2020 and 2021 for the number of homicides.