Public Safety Task Force meets to discuss MPD’s hiring process

Public Safety Task Force meets to discuss MPD’s hiring process

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For the second time, the City's Public Safety Task Force met to discuss recruiting, hiring, retention and training for the Memphis Police Department.

The group is made up of city council members, the Memphis Police and Fire directors, union representatives, community activists and the city's chief Human resources officer.

Thursday's meeting focused specifically on the hiring process for officers within the department.

Chief Human Resources Officer Alex Smith went through MPD's current hiring policy which includes a lengthy application process.

It starts with an application, a candidate phone screening, intake of documents, a series of physical tests, background review, and medical and psychological screenings.

Over the last four years, the Memphis Police Department has had more than 13,000 applications.

However a chart shows that number drops significantly throughout each step of the hiring process.

Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings says those numbers usually fall around the background check stage.

"Work history is a problem, arrest history is a problem, falsification on applications is a problem where all of the information is not provided," Rallings said.

With the current political climate, demilitarizing the police came up -- which brought on concerns about the number of veterans being recruited.

“Part of my mission is to try to find a way to demilitarize the police department, and that’s one of the things that we’re using to qualify people who are becoming police officers is verifying and validating their previous military experience training, knowing that the way people may have been trained to engage in military combat should not be consistent with the way they’re being trained to engage in civilian relations,” said Dr. Earle Fisher.

Director Rallings reminded the group that discriminating against veterans is against the law.

“As a veteran who has never used excessive force, never been involved in an officer-involved shooting -- what we see is some of our veterans are some of our best officers because they have been well-trained and they show an enormous amount of restraint,” Rallings said.

Fisher said he just wants to get an accurate number of veterans in the department, since that information is not required, but given voluntarily.

After Thursday's meeting, the task force was asked to submit recommendations on better hiring practices for MPD.

Task Force meetings will continue through October.

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