City council looks into MPD hiring requirements

City council looks into MPD hiring requirements

(WMC-TV) – The Memphis City Council is trying to figure out how to deal with problem police officers.

The city council was supposed to consider reinstating the college degree requirement for police officers on Tuesday. When they learned that requirement was already reinstated two years ago, the talks turned into an analysis of overall police qualifications.

Council members debated the link between a recent spate in officer arrests and the fact that most of those officers do not have college experience.

Some of the incidents that sparked this conversation was a Memphis officer charged with DUI, another accused of taking prostitutes across state lines, and the recent officer-involved shooting of a 14-year-old boy.

"When we say now that we require two years of college, what does that mean?" said Memphis Councilman Jim Strickland.

Memphis Police Deputy Director Don Boyd says officers need 54 semester hours.

"But that requirement will be waived if you have two years of active military experience," said Boyd.

Councilman Jim Strickland analyzed the list of arrests since January.

Twenty-one Memphis police officers and one recruit have been arrested so far this year.

Two of those people had a two-year degree, while three had a four-year degree. The rest did not have one. They were hired when police relaxed the college requirement.

Most of the arrests were for DUI and domestic related cases.

"This is telling me maybe we need to require a four-year degree. What do you think?" asked Strickland at the city council meeting Tuesday.

"We'd have to look at data," said Memphis Human Resource Director Quinton Robinson.

The Memphis Police Department is no stranger to officers violating the oath they uphold.

"In the book of public corruption this is a sad chapter and this chapter is entitled Tarnished Blue," said My Harrison, former FBI agent in charge.

In 2004, the FBI launched Operation Tarnished Blue.

They arrested 46 Memphis Police officers in five years. That is an average of nine officers per year compared to 22 arrests this year alone.

The council asked Memphis' human resources to launch a study to reassess hiring and training policies.

"We're looking at our disciplinary policies and procedures to make sure they have teeth in them," said Robinson.

Council members pointed out 99 percent of the officers on the force have no problems.

In 60 days, the Human Resources Division will come back with suggestions.

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