Memphis City Council asks questions about MPD memos - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis City Council asks questions about MPD memos

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Memphis City Council members grilled the city's police director this week about thousands of long lost police memos that were recently discovered. Memphis City Council members grilled the city's police director this week about thousands of long lost police memos that were recently discovered.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) – Memphis City Council members grilled the city's police director this week about thousands of long lost police memos that were recently discovered.

The discovery of more than 70,000 incidents, classified as police memos and never updated to official crime reports or investigations, was brought to the attention of Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong shortly after he took office last April.

The memos were dated between January 2007 and July 2011, the majority were written before Armstrong took the helm.

During a public safety committee meeting Tuesday, Armstrong revealed his department had gone through one out of every fifteen of those memos and found only about 20 percent should have become a full report for a violent crime.

"The great majority of the mistakes were made in reference to property crimes," said Armstrong.

Police officers write memos when they arrive on the scene of an incident and find incomplete information. Lieutenants are then supposed to approve them and, when information becomes available, those memos are supposed to be updated.

However, roughly 79,000 never were.

Committee members questioned whether those memos would affect the crime rate now, since former Director Larry Godwin did not include them in statistics when he proclaimed a sharp decline in crime back in 2009.

"People are assuming the numbers were cooked," said Memphis City Council member Jim Strickland.  "There was not a big reduction in crime, and that damage that's been done will be very hard to reverse."

"Again, we just took a sampling," added Armstrong. "You can imagine how labor intensive this would have been to review 79,000 memos."

Even so, Armstrong believes those memos would not lead to an increase in the rate of crime in the Bluff City.  However, he added, it's still too early to be conclusive.

Strickland also questioned why information was released to the media about the police memos without a thorough analysis of the impact it would have on crime reduction figures.

"As you know, the mayor has made several statements about transparency in government," said Armstrong.  "We owned it.  We basically stepped forward and said, yes, it's true, and this is what we're doing to correct the problem."

Armstrong said a quality assurance unit is now in place to verify all reports to make sure they meet certain criteria.

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