MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wednesday, Mayor Jim Strickland announced the second phase of his effort to reform policing.
As part of Phase 2, Strickland has named a new advisory council to “Reimagine Policing” in Memphis.
Strickland says Phase 1 of this process was to listen to protesters and to make immediate improvements like adopting the “8 Can’t Wait” principles, improving CLERB, prohibiting no-knock warrants, extending the academy training by one week and adding additional cultural sensitivity training and continuing to review policies that will reduce excessive force by our police officers.
The focus of the advisory council will be to work with members of the community to find ways to improve community relations with law enforcement, help enhance accountability and transparency within the Memphis Police Department, and to make recommendations on use of force policies.
Over the next 45 days, the group will be meeting with members of the community to bring forth their initial and immediate actionable solutions. Once they bring those initial recommendations, the group will reconvene and continue working with members of the community for an additional 45 days to make final recommendations and present them to the administration.
The committees include Clergy, which will be responsible for working with the faith-based community representing various religions. Civil Rights will work with activists and nonprofit organizations. The Legislative committee members will work with constituents, neighborhood groups and the business community. The Law Enforcement committee will reach out to other enforcement agencies and act as a resource to the group as a whole.
Below are the members of the Advisory Council to Reimagine Policing:
- Apostle Bill Adkins
- Dr. J. Lawrence Turner
- Pastor Vernor Horner
- Civil Rights
- Van Turner
- Tonya Sessley-Baymon
- Walter Womack
- Raumesh Akbari
- Phyllis Aluko
- Cheyenne Johnson
- Eddie Jones
- Law Enforcement
- Bill Gibbons
- John Covington
- Rosalind Harris
“To reimagine law enforcement doesn’t mean you’re against law enforcement,” said Memphis NAACP President and Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner.
He says the Ridgeway Police Precinct explains how he would like to reimagine policing.
It’s just a short distance from the Hickory Hill Community Center.
“It’s good because this place is the precinct right where our youth community would go play,” said Turner.
It’s also where relationships can be built.
“And I think one of the suggestions that I would offer from the NAACP is see what we can do to bring community policing back to our communities in a meaningful way,” said Turner.
Turner is one of 13 people chosen by Mayor Jim Strickland to be a part of his advisory council to Reimagining Policing.
It is an effort that began after weeks of protest in the city surrounding police brutality and criminal justice reform.
The council is made up of leaders of civil rights organizations, legislators, clergy and law enforcement, but WMC5 asked the special assistant to the mayor Ken Moody, why none of the community activists from the marches were asked to be on the advisory council.
“So we selected committees that we thought had a far reach that again could reach out to every aspect of the community to give input,” said Moody.
Over the course of at least 90 days the advisory council will take input from the public and one topic that is likely to come up is defunding police.
“I think when people hear the word ‘defund’ it’s kind of a scary concept, really it’s just how can we reallocate resources in a way that achieves the same ending result where people are safe and healthy,” said State Senator Raumesh Akbari.
She says that may mean putting more money towards things like mental health support or other community efforts, but that’s not all.
“We need to get police training and make sure we have people protecting and serving and not scared of the constituents that they serve,” said Akbari.
The advisory council and the mayor’s office will be announcing virtual public meetings in the coming days.
The council will facilitated by Coplexity, who will also help arrange the virtual meetings with the committees and organize the public meetings.
If you are unable to attend a meeting and would like to share what you want to see improve in the Memphis Police Department, click here.