This time, however, his title will be the dual one of president of the non-profit Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and director of the new Public Safety Institute, to be housed in the University of Memphis School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy.
The announcement of Gibbons’ new position had been contained in a news release on Wednesday from the office of Governor Bill Haslam, who had hired Gibbons away for his state duty in 2011, and it was made official in a Thursday-afternoon ceremony at the Urban Child Institute in the presence of numerous representatives of local government and law enforcement and of the University.
Gibbons will continue in his state office through August 31 and will assume his new duties on September 1.
In a press release passed out to the media, UM president M. David Rudd expressed pride in the new partnership with the Crime Commission and noted, “The U of M has a strong history of research using technology and analytics to pioneer new ways to prevent and solve crime. We are excited to be able to contribute to a reduction in crime in the Memphis area. This is an important step in advancing the growth and development of our community.”
More informally, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who had been involved in the joint discussions leading to the creation of Gibbons’ new positon, resorted to an athletic metaphor in remarks at the ceremony. Noting that the University had apparently scored previous coups in its engagement of highly touted new football and basketball coaches, Strickland called the hiring a “home run,” and, in relation to the other hires, a “triple play.”
(Parenthetically and coincidentally, this week’s Flyer editorial took note of the previous University hires in similar fashion.)
Subsequent speakers among the numerous officials celebrating the Gibbons appointment kept to the “home run” metaphor as a legitimate indicator of the group enthusiasm.
In his own remarks, Gibbons expressed gratitude to Governor Haslam for allowing him to serve at the state level, where, in addition to heading the Department of Safety, he also chaired the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet. “I love my job,” he said, but was looking forward to his new duties, which, he hoped, would allow him to have a continuing relationship with his erstwhile colleagues in state government.
Gibbons paid tribute to President Rudd as a “can-do” leader and to the University as a progressive, forward-looking force in a Memphis community that, he said, “I care about more than any other place in the world.” He made reference to Strickland’s emphasis on crime control as a primary issue locally and said he was in full agreement. He said he “rejected” the notion that the city’s current crime rate was something the community had to accept as a norm.
Some five years after departing his position as District Attorney General for Shelby County to become state Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security. Bill Gibbons has come home. And, as before, he will be at the forefront of local crime-control efforts.