Michael Rallings and Jim Strickland
On his first day as the full-time Memphis Police Director, Michael Rallings listed his accomplishments over the past six months he served as interim director and outlined a few plans for the future.
Rallings gave that speech in a press conference on Monday morning at Memphis City Hall. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced on Sunday night that Rallings was chosen to lead the department after a national search for a successor to former director Toney Armstrong.
In his speech, Rallings named off a checklist of his accomplishments since he was named in the interim role back in February. Among those were 31 graduates from the Memphis Police Department (MPD) training academy, the installation of 400 in-car cameras, the test run of 25 body cameras by officers at Crump Station, an 80 percent homicide solve rate, a new GPS ankle monitoring program for domestic violence and sex offenders, and a significant reduction in backlogged sexual assault kits.
When asked what he would do to reduce the city's high homicide rate — 133 homicides so far this year — Rallings said he couldn't do it alone. He said it was up to family members of young people to monitor Facebook threats and social media photos of their sons posing with guns and drugs.
"Families have got to get involved in young people's lives," Rallings said.
He did point out, though, that the majority of this year's homicides have been between people who knew one another and resorted to gun violence after an argument.
Going forward, Rallings said he'd continue to encourage citizens to work together with the police department to help reduce the homicide rate. He also vowed to do everything he could to improve the benefits package for police officers, and he said the he'd work with the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission on developing a third edition of the Operation Safe Community crime-fighting initiative. Additionally, Rallings said he needed to improve his relationship with the Latino community.
"I haven't done as much work with my Latino brothers and sisters. I feel like I've let them down. I will do better," Rallings said.
The Memphis City Council will vote on Rallings' appointment on Tuesday.
"These last six months have been tough, the toughest in my career. They have been tough for law enforcement across the country. But I'm ready to serve," Rallings said. "I'm ready to breathe new life into some of these neighborhoods and citizens who have given up hope."