(Just as a neighborhood should not be judged by the actions of a few bad apples, neither should law enforcement agencies. The New Tri-State Defender’s “Good Blue & You” column spotlights law enforcement officers who do it right. This edition’s focus is on Memphis Police Department Detective Therman Richardson Jr.)
A few minutes with Memphis Police Department Detective Therman Richardson Jr. yields a palpable sense of the passion he has for what he does, whom he loves and his desire for community fairness.
Richardson has been with MPD since 1998. He is a 1989 graduate of Southaven High School and a 1993 Mississippi Valley State University graduate, where he majored in political science and minored in criminal justice. His family tree includes great-uncle named Ray Richardson, the first African American to serve as deputy chief for the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department.
His wife of 21 years is Chaurica Richardson. They have a son, Therman Richardson, and two student-athlete daughters, Taelour and Ericka Richardson, who both play basketball at Eastern Kentucky University.
Kelvin Cowans: You have climbed the ranks to detective. How did this all get started?
Therman Richardson Jr.: Imagine having a job where you are addressing people’s needs in the community every day. And on any given day you are the police, a counselor, a pastor and even a dogcatcher. I just couldn’t believe (MPD) was paying me to have this much fun. Many of my partners were going over to OCU (Organized Crime Unit) and that was cool. But I was having too much fun.
KC: So where did the fun end and the “Miami Vice” begin?
TRJ: My major, Janice Pilot, … called me into the office and said, “Son, you can get officer of the month, every month just by looking at your numbers. You got more felony arrests, misdemeanor arrests, juvenile summons, etc. But boy, why don’t you write tickets?” I was like, “I don’t like writing tickets because I think it’s a hypocrisy because I speed to work everyday.”
She laughed but … (saw) how sincere I was. My thing was that if I went to OCU, I wanted to be asked to go because of the work I was doing in the field. So eventually that’s exactly what happened. I solved a homicide by networking with the people in the community and as a rookie with 11 months on the job I was sent over on TA (temporary assignment) to homicide.
KC: As a detective, are you ever off?
TRJ: Never off, even as we sit here now my phone has rung three times. Somebody needs me for something. I’ve been doing this for 16 years now and truly, one week in Memphis of doing detective work is equivalent to a year.
KC: You have a picture of yourself escorting drug lord Craig Petties.
TRJ: Yes, that was us bringing him in from Texas on charges.
KC: If I’m not mistaken, I remember him going to court in an armored vehicle.
TRJ: Absolutely. Craig Petties is one of the largest drug dealers ever known to the southeast region of the United States. His status was larger than most people truly understand. We had to preserve his life. There was El Chapo Guzman, Edgar Valdez aka La Barbie and then Craig Petties.
If the cartel thought, smelled, had an inkling or believed he was working with law enforcement, then his life would’ve been in danger, including anyone remotely involved with him as well. That investigation spanned over 10 years. Many lives were lost but we did save a lot of lives.
KC: What does a wife mean to a person with an occupation such as yours? What does Chaurica mean to you?
TRJ: My everything! My breath! My backbone, my motivation. She’s very understanding as I have had to miss many kids games and birthdays, etc.
KC: Lastly, what is Perfect Harmony (Community Development) and what are the limbs of that tree about?
TRJ: Perfect Harmony was brought about because of your Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland situations. After these such situations I’m always asked what do I think about what happened. I have different opinions based on the gathering of all evidence.
Still, it’s always usually negative as portrayed in the news and so I created Perfect Harmony to bring positive news, to show the public about us. We help people get their kids in after-school programs, felons expunge their records, jobs, child support resolutions, school supplies and more. We take control of the narrative about policemen, one person and one event at a time.
Favorite food: Steak, medium rare.
Favorite football team: Pittsburgh Steelers.
Favorite way to wind down: Cigar in his man cave.
Favorite Bible verse: Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
(Kelvin Cowans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)