Memphis’ Public Safety Task Force holds first meeting

Memphis’ Public Safety Task Force holds first meeting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A task force designed to improve public safety met for the first time Thursday.

Members of the task force include city council members, Memphis police and Memphis fire representatives, police union members, activists and the City's Chief Human Resources Officer.

Much of Thursday's discussion was focused on how the Memphis Police Department recruits its officers.

The Chief of Human Resources, Alexandria Smith, says currently 55% of MPD officers are African American, 42% of officers live in the city and 47% live outside of the city.

She also said the city does a lot of recruiting within military and veteran organizations as well as colleges with a focus on diversity.

Many members of the task force made recommendations on additional ways to recruit officers including looking into hiring people with minor offenses like having a marijuana charge.

City Councilmember J.B. Smiley Jr. recommended an incentive program for Shelby County Schools students to become MPD officers.

"So my line of thinking is not only do we need officers who have had battle training who can react in tense situations but also people from this community of this community who know what it's like to grow up in the streets of Memphis," Smiley said.

The Chief HR Officer reminded the task force - while there were good recommendations, there is still a state protocol the city has to follow in terms of hiring practices.

We also learned MPD has looked at the Los Angeles Police Department as well as Dallas Police for best practices when recruiting.

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