MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner has apologized for deputies displaying shock shields in an attempt to keep protesters out of the Shelby County Jail building this week.
The apology comes as the Shelby County Commission continues to discuss several ordinances focusing on law enforcement reform.
“I think there’s no reason for a county like Shelby, a city like Memphis, to have those types of high-grade weaponry. And it’s definitely no reason for us to be using Marvel shields, against civilians,” said Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer, District 7.
Friday, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner responded to criticism about the shock shields.
Bonner said the shields were purchased in July and that the sheriff’s office has had other shock shields inside the jail since a riot in the 90s.
Bonner said deputies were attempting to keep protesters out of the jail Thursday, claiming not long ago protesters entered the jail creating a security threat.
“The community’s relationship is fractured, and a part of that is on the side of law enforcement, the way they show up in our community,” said Sawyer.
In that statement, the Sheriff apologized, saying “Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. says this is a regrettable mistake and directed policy modifications that will prohibit those shields from being displayed or used outside of the Jail again.”
“My response to Sheriff Bonner is that I think that it’s really big of him to acknowledge the concern and take action,” said Sawyer.
Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer is a sponsor on three of four ordinances aimed at law enforcement reform that will be discussed Monday during a commission meeting.
Those ordinances have caused controversy, with some commissioners disagreeing with the reform.
“My constituents have sent me emails wanting their law enforcement to have every tool they need in the toolbox,” said Shelby County Commissioner Amber Mills, District 1.
“We do need to talk about these taser shields,” said Sawyer.
Sheriff Bonner says those shields emit a pulsating shock less than 320 volts or less wattage than a Christmas tree light.
The Shelby County Commission meeting starts Monday at 3 p.m.