Council member says MPD turning away qualified applicants - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Council member says MPD turning away qualified applicants

There were claims of hiring discrimination on the Memphis police force Tuesday as Memphis City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert said the police department is turning away qualified African American applicants.

"While the police issue did not begin as a racial issue, once the data was released by the city's police department, it clearly showed that there is a problem hiring a particular group of individuals in our city," Halbert said at a city council committee meeting.

Halbert said several people had contacted her about it.

"There were some wrongful or dismissed arrests being used against them," Halbert said.

Halbert said she is not only concerned about discrimination, but is also concerned about what she calls 'a gentleman's agreement' that she believes must have taken place inside City Hall.

"Police hiring was at some point moved away from Human Resources to the Police Department.  Well, the city ordinance does not allow that to be done," Halbert said.

Action News 5 took Halbert's concerns to Police Director Larry Godwin.

"As bad as we need police officers, the last thing we need to do is eliminate anyone.  We want as many as we can get," Godwin said.

Director Godwin said Human Resources makes all the job offers, police just do the testing.

"Your director does not select any person and I think once it's explained the council will understand," Godwin said.

There were rumors this all came up because she had a close friend who wanted to be on the force. Halbert denied that had anything to do with it.

"Other council members have had telephone calls and emails as well, but it only takes one constituent to show the flaws in the system and I do not and I will never apologize for representing my constituency," Halbert said.

Halbert said she wants to work on a strategy to eliminate all barriers and bring the police department together.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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