MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Every Shelby County Sheriff Deputy class has to pass an extensive background check, physical agility tests, and weeks in the academy. However, now all future sheriff- deputies will have to pass another step in the hiring process and that’s going before the newly formed civilian hiring committee.
“So now ordinary citizens, people that are in our community get a chance to interview them and talk to them and get to know these men and women,” Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said.
Bonner came up with this idea as part of his ongoing police reform efforts. This new committee gives citizens a voice in the hiring process.
“My initial thought was hey this is a great idea,” Memphis Branch NAACP Executive Director Vickie Terry said.
She is one of the 5 people chosen to be on the panel.
She says she’s looking for high ethical standards and good communication skills for the next sheriff deputy.
“If you’re gonna be out in the community, interacting with people in the community, you’ve got to have some people skills,” Terry said.
Once a sheriff-deputy is hired there is no other formal citizen involvement, like what is done on the city side with CLERB or the Citizen Law Enforcement Review Board.
CLERB has the power to investigate and make recommendations to MPD regarding complaints towards police officers. The Sheriff’s office relies on its internal affairs division located at 1080 Madison Avenue to handle citizen complaints.
“They can file complaints against officers anytime by email, by phone, coming in,” Bonner said.
There are no current plans on the books to change that. For now, he’s focused on making sure the right deputies make it on the force in the first place.
“I think this is a win-win for the sheriff’s office as well as the community,” Bonner said.
Bonner hopes to expand the Citizen Hiring Committee to the hiring of deputy jailers as well.