MEMPHIS, Tenn. – – Cerelyn Davis, Mayor Jim Strickland’s choice to be Memphis’s new police chief, addressed the Memphis media for the first time Monday afternoon.
Davis, who comes to the Bluff City from North Carolina, talked about how important it is for her to build trust with her officers and the community.
“I say just give me an opportunity to get to know you and to meet you where you are,” Davis said.
That’s particularly important because her plan for fighting violent crime involves civilians.
“We have to have our community members help us with crime reduction,” she said, “Provide us information. Help to look out for those individuals that are committing crimes.”
Davis has 33 years of law enforcement experience and is currently the police chief in Durham, North Carolina. She started her career in Atlanta where she rose to the rank of deputy chief and oversaw the department’s real time crime center.
“To serve you at this critical moment in time is truly the pinnacle of my career,” Davis told Memphis reporters.
She says she intends to work with activists in Memphis as communities across the country re-imagine policing.
“We don’t always have to agree but it’s important that we have conversations,” she said, “It’s important that we give our citizens voice.”
Davis was a late addition to the list of police chief candidates which included three in-house finalists who’ve each spent more than 25 years with the Memphis Police Department.
City councilman Jeff Warren believes Davis is the right choice at this time.
“At different times you need different approaches to come in,” he said, “Sometimes, you need that person from inside. Sometimes, you need that fresh look from outside.”
Davis will have to be confirmed by the city council before she can officially become the police chief. She would be the first African American woman to run the department.