Memphis City Council passes 2 resolutions, 6 ordinances aiming for police reform

Memphis — Tuesday marked one month since Tyre Nichols was pulled over and beaten by Memphis Police, eventually leading to his death.

But this Tuesday also marked a different time – Memphis City Council passed two resolutions and six ordinances focused on reforming and reimagining policing in Memphis in light of Nichols’s death.

More than 30 people all spoke in front of city council not only pushing for these changes, but also making other demands.

“It’s time for you all and the mayor of this city to do their job effectively and efficiently to protect us. We are the people of this city, Without us, there is no Memphis, Tennessee,” said one speaker.

This lasted almost five hours, as community members sat in council chambers holding up signs.

“We need an independent review of who’s making the hiring decisions and who’s even entering the police academy, it doesn’t matter how we’re training them if they’re already entering with systemic racist beliefs,” said one woman.

Another said later, “More cops does not mean less crime; it does mean less funding for things like education, housing, transportation.”

The resolutions and ordinances all were included in an add-on agenda, presented during Tuesday morning committee meetings.

They are as follows:

RESOLUTION to establish misuse of body-worn cameras and excessive force complaints as disqualifying factors in the Memphis Police Department promotional process for a Period of Two (2) Calendar Years.

– PASSED, with an amendment for termination

RESOLUTION of the Memphis City Council in Support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

ORDINANCE to establish a procedure for the Memphis Police Department to conduct an annual independent review of the Police Training Academy and all training techniques, up for F I R S T reading.

ORDINANCE amending the City of Memphis Code of Ordinances Vehicle and Traffic Logan Code to clarify appropriate methods of enforcement of traffic violations, up for Chairman, F I R S T reading.

ORDINANCE to Amend the City of Memphis Code or Ordinances, Chapter 21, Motor Traffic and Vehicles, Article 1, General Provisions and Definitions, to Require the Division of Police Services to use Only Appropriately Marked Law Enforcement Vehicles to Conduct Traffic Stops, up for F I R S T reading.

ORDINANCE to establish a Public Safety Reporting Protocol in regard to the disposition by the Memphis Police Department of Recommendations by the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) to the Memphis Police Department regarding CLERB’s disposition of complaints involving police misconduct, the use of deadly force by police officers and deaths and injuries of persons occurring while in police custody, up for F I R S T reading

ORDINANCE to establish an Independent Review Process of Memphis Police Department Incidents involving the use of Excessive, Unnecessary and, or Deadly Force by Police Officers and Deaths or Serious Injuries of Persons Occurring while in Police Custody, up for F I R S T reading.

ORDINANCE to Amend the City of Memphis Code of Ordinances Relating to Public Safety for the City of Memphis Law Enforcement to Collect and Regularly Report Data Regarding Traffic Stops, Arrests, Use of Force, and Complaints, up for F I R S T reading.

For people in the crowd, the resolutions and ordinances are only a start.

“History is watching in this city, the city where King died, the city of civil rights, with all the power we’ve stood up to. This city, we’re asking today what side would you stand on? Stand with the people,” said one person who addressed the council.

Some people spent their whole day through committee, when Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said that the remaining members of the now disbanded SCORPION unit are now in other departments.

“This is a classic example of officers’ wolf pack mentality, ego and other issues that mushroomed into a tragic situation that, as it’s been said, could’ve been avoided,” Davis said in committee.

In response, one community member said it’s unacceptable.

“Police are a problem, MGU is a problem, SCORPION unit is a problem,” she said. “SCORPION unit was dismantled, but she said they’ve been moved to other units. She said that out of her own mouth, which means whatever behavior they had prior to and while in SCORPION unit is the same behavior they’re going to exhibit when they get in these other units.”

All the ordinances still must undergo two more readings before they can officially become law.