MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In his first sit-down interview since the pandemic, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner shared changes being made within the department and his hope for Memphis and Shelby County.
“I’ve lived here in Memphis, all of my life. I’ve seen it good times, bad times, we’re going through a tough time, but it’s not only in Memphis, it’s all across the country now,” the Sheriff said.
With gun violence on the rise and systemic issues at the forefront of police departments all over the country, Bonner says one of the biggest changes he’s made within his department is the way officers are trained.
“We need all the training we can get to keep tragedies that just happened up in Milwaukee or Minnesota from happening where an officer gets his taser confused with his weapon,” he said.
But with Governor Lee signing a permitless carry bill into law earlier this month -- which would allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns without first clearing a background check and training, Bonner says it could make the jobs of deputies more difficult.
“What we were trying to get to with the governor is that we feel like citizens that are going to carry guns should know the do’s and the don’ts the reason when you can shoot. And when you can’t shoot, being educated. We answer calls all the time about accidental discharges. These are probably people that are not familiar with handling weapons,” said Bonner.
Bonner also said he wants to improve the relationship between officers and the community.
“I think all the citizens of Memphis will say that, you know, we’re sick and tired of the violence, but what are you doing to help change that culture?” he asked. “What are you doing to help change the mindset of young people? And for us not to be so quick to pull a gun.”
This is why deputies are now required to do four hours of community service with hopes of healing the community.
“We just got to wrap our arms around it and get it done. And it’s going to take hard work. I mean, it’s going to take us all rolling up our sleeves and we want to see it better. Then let’s put some skin in the game.”