Shelby County Commission to debate law enforcement reform at upcoming meeting

Shelby County Commission to debate law enforcement reform at upcoming meeting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - An intense debate surrounding law enforcement reform will continue Monday during the Shelby County Commission meeting.

Shelby County Commission will be discussing three different ordinances aimed at law enforcement reform.

Supporters say these are important changes to better serve the community while opponents believe the proposals don’t support officers.

Every day for a full week in May, hundreds of Memphians marched in protests, demanding reforms in local law enforcement.

Shelby County commissioner Van Turner says three separate ordinances causing controversy in County Commission are a response to those protests from lawmakers.

“Our young people were out in the streets, they were Black, white, Muslim, Jew, Christian, different ages, different ethnicities, and they were speaking very loudly and profoundly saying they want change,” Commissioner Van Turner, Shelby County District 12 said.

The three ordinances proposed would limit the ability to purchase military equipment unless approved by a super-majority vote of nine commissioners, prohibit public safety officers from deploying chemical agents on protesters such as tear gas and disqualifies applicants with history of excessive force complaints creating a database to keep track.

“None of this is to be against law enforcement, none of this is to belittle or undermine our officers but we do want to make sure that we drive home the point that officers can serve and protect and we can put into law things they protect the community as well,” Commissioner Turner said.

“I am on board with police reform, just like Sheriff Bonner and his leadership,” Commissioner Amber Mills, Shelby County District 1 said. “Remember who hates a bad cop worse than anyone is a good cop. But there’s a process, there’s a conversation that needs to be had and it does need to include law enforcement upfront.”

Commissioner Amber Mills is the chairwoman of the Law Enforcement Committee.

She says she opposes the proposed ordinances partly because she believes they could hinder law enforcement’s ability to protect and serve the public. Mills says her constituents have written her in opposition to the proposals.

“They’ve been saying they want law enforcement to have all the tools that they need,” Commissioner Mills said. “They don’t want us to come in and dictate how they do their job. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, they’ve done a good job.”

All three proposed ordinances get their first of three readings during Monday afternoon’s meeting.

Commissioner Turner says he believes the debate over law enforcement reform is good for the community and some compromises may have to happen to get changes passed.

Commissioner Mills says Sheriff Floyd Bonner will attend Monday’s meeting as well.

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