MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new era at the Memphis Police Department begins as CJ Davis takes the helm.
Davis becomes the first woman to ever lead MPD and the first outsider to lead the department since the 1970’s. She inherits a much bigger police department than the one she left in Durham, North Carolina. Memphis has nearly four times as many officers and there is much more violent crime.
“I’m really excited about getting to know my officers and also getting to know key community leaders who have already expressed concern about the crime that they’re experiencing. Not just crime but also quality of life issues,” said Davis.
Davis spoke with WREG-TV on Monday while attending the groundbreaking for Liberty Park, which is an enormous project with an emphasis for youth sports.
“Youth is a passion of mine. So I’m really looking forward to working with this center and the facilitators to make some things happen in this neighborhood to make the community safe,” Davis said.
Davis called her first day as Memphis new police director an “exciting day.” Her face days on the job will be challenging, as the city has already experienced a turbulent year.
This weekend alone there were multiple shootings that left four people dead and another four injured.
Davis said she plans to connect with those experiencing the violence.
“Well I think it’s important to meet people where they are. Boots on the ground. Not just myself but my team as well. Officers are already out there but what I hope to do is be accessible and more of a presence to the community we’ll be serving,” Davis said.
Davis added tackling gun violence comes with a two-prong approach.
“You have to work with the community. The police department can’t do it by ourselves and we have to work with the community members in order to find ways to prevent crime too. Not just respond to crime,” Davis said.
Davis went on to say, “Especially some of the activists, some of the activists that have raised concerns. We’ve had a tumultuous year not just here in Memphis but also all over the country.”
Davis was previously chief in Durham, North Carolina. Last year Durham reported 37 homicides while Memphis had more than 330.
Davis said tackling violent crime will be her top priority.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said she has the experience, compassion and vision to improve MPD.