Skip to main content

By DeLois Porter

Recently, the news cycle and social media outlets were filled with breaking news about a despicable act by law enforcement In Memphis, Tennessee.
News reports indicated that an unarmed civilian was stopped by Memphis police officers for unknown reasons, physically pulled from the vehicle by multiple officers before briefly fleeing for his life on foot.

Graphic footage revealed that on January 7, 2023, law enforcement chased, apprehended, tasered, kicked and beat suspect Tyre Nichols, who succumbed to his injuries on January 10, 2023. Ten days later, five Memphis police officers were fired as a result of the encounter.

While news reports were deeply disturbing, Memphis Chief of Police, Cerelyn Davis, embodied leadership at the highest level and standard.

Within 10 days (not months or years), Chief Davis summarily terminated and criminally charged all five of the involved Memphis police officers.

Meeting the full leadership requirements of the role, Chief Davis assessed that each officer had violated a June 9, 2020 department policy which reads in part that:

“another member engaged in dangerous or criminal conduct or abuse of a subject shall take reasonable action to intervene.”

The Davis further espoused that all 5 officers appeared to have been in “violation of policies and regulations or any other improper conduct which is contrary to the policy, order, or directives of the Department.”

Without weighing the potential banter of public opinion or potential union posturing, Chief Davis led with conviction , principle and due diligence.

She did not waiver on her decision & moved to immediately terminate all five of the involved officers – who have since been charged with second-degree murder, official misconduct, aggravated kidnapping, official oppression and aggravated assault.


Chief Davis’ public demeanor has displayed a professional, yet passionate commitment to her role as a public servant. The composure, courage and compassion she has displayed in this “crisis” moment – represents the ability to lead with a fervent understanding of leadership. Good leaders will compromise to move an organization forward. “Great” leaders will move swiftly and decisively to make decisions based on the merits of the available facts, with rational for their decisions.

She’s nearly single handedly squelched the potential for a national display of riots and violent protests that have disrupted communities i- following deaths related to police actions.

This lesson in leadership – can and should be replicated in organizations around the globe. Doing the right thing IS a leadership principle.