MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis’s search for the next police director continued Thursday with a full day of interviews involving some members of the public.
The city made the announcement about the latest step in the interview process in a tweet with little advanced notice. Seven prospective candidates met with five panels, each with a different focus like “policing strategies” and “citizen engagement.”
One panel included both Memphis City Council member Cheyenne Johnson and activist Devante Hill.
Johnson asked the how the candidates would stay in contact with the community, while Hill asked the candidates about their relationship with protesters in other cities and how they would respond to civil unrest.
According to the city’s tweet, 25 people made up the panels, including lawyers and clergy. About half work for the city, including the police department as well as other divisions.
“There was also a presence of attorneys who’ve been working with the city to advocate for equitable and fair justice,” Hill said. “There were retired police officers who’ve now gone into grassroots work.”
Hill and Johnson say at the end of each candidate, they came together to discuss strengths and weaknesses then passed that on to Mayor Jim Strickland, who had final meetings alone with each candidate.
Hill would not say who the leading candidate was at this point.
“What I can say is that those candidates that performed well yesterday, some were from Memphis and some weren’t,” Hill said. “It was quite obvious who the strong candidates were.”
Critics of the process say there hasn’t been enough transparency. We asked the city if they planned to post the interviews since they were done virtually, but a city spokesperson tells us they did not record them.
Hill has an active warrant for violation of probation. When asked about that Friday, he said it was a paperwork error and he was working to get it corrected.