MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Last fall more than 400 members of the community attended over 30 focus groups focused on reimagining policing in Memphis.
We asked city leaders what happened to all that information and what was learned from hours of listening to the public.
“Actually kind of the thing that kind of caught us all by surprise is that people really wanted police to be kinder. They want police to be respectful,” said Advisory council member Pastor Bill Adkins. “Even if you pull them over, there’s a way to pull them over and there’s a way to talk to them without insulting them, without dehumanizing them.”
Adkins is one of the 13 community leaders handpicked by Mayor Jim Strickland’s administration to be part of the Advisory Council on reimagining policing.
The council was formed back in September in response to a slew of protests in the city after the untimely deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arberry.
Each Advisory Council member was tasked with tapping into their network and holding public meetings on policing.
“And really that committee is compiling all of that data to give to the mayor to present to him to see what the people want,” said Adkins.
A 68-page report was compiled looking at excessive force, transparency, accountability and community relations.
Some of the many recommendations included:
- Mental and emotional wellness checks of officers, including levels of fear and anxiety.
- Collecting data and analyzing differential treatment of people based on race or ethnicity.
- And they want officers who live inside city limits or preferential incentives given to those living in Memphis.
According to the report, turn-out for the public meetings was lower than expected and more could be done to reach out to the community.
The report was completed on Jan. 30, so we wanted to know which of the recommendations were under consideration by the city.
A spokesperson for Strickland says this report only includes findings from participants in the public meetings and the advisory council is meeting again in the next few weeks to vote on specific recommendations.
Adkins knows one recommendation he will be making.
“Whoever the next police director is, he or she is going to have to be as much a sociologist as they have to be a cop. It’s changed now. We just don’t need a good cop. we need a person who is sensitive to what’s going on in America,” said Adkins.
Strickland’s office also points to a number of police reform measures already in the works including a new MPD policy to have all unnecessary force cases reviewed by the DA, increasing staff of CLERB and adopting the eight can’t wait policies.