Recruit weighs in on MPD residency requirement - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Recruit weighs in on MPD residency requirement

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A debate over residency requirements for Memphis Police recruits turned racial at last Monday's Memphis City Council meeting.

Still, Eric Lee is applying to become one of Memphis' finest.

"I'd like to be part of making a difference in bringing Memphis back to where it was when I was growing up," Lee said Sunday.

Lee has 16 years of military experience, and recently moved his family back home to Memphis to become a cop.  Now, he's waiting to see if he passed the recruitment screening process.

"Everything up to now, I feel I've been treated fairly," he said.
 
Meanwhile, council member Reid Hedgepeth wants more police on the streets.  Hedgepeth is fighting to loosen the residency requirement to allow applicants to live up to 20 miles outside Shelby County.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert was strongly against it, saying said qualified "local" recruits tell her they're being overlooked because of race.

"Do I think it was racial?  No I don't," Lee said.

Instead, Lee said, if you're not recruited, you should look at yourself to see how you can improve.

"Her comments didn't really jive with the whole topic on the table," he said. "We're talking about residency requirements."

Lee added that widening recruitment boundaries isn't a black or white issue - it's grey.
 
"If it helps add to the pool, then I'm for it, but I think they should be a little closer than outside Shelby County," he said.

The majority of the Council ultimately voted that officers must live in Memphis.  Lee says that's an investment.

"If you actually live in the city, you have a stake and a vested interest in what happens to the city," he said.

To get on the force, Lee must pass two written exams, a physical ability test, a psychological test, a medical exam, and a background investigation.


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