Local leaders call for community input to vet MPD police director finalists

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New calls for citizen input when it comes to choosing Memphis’s next police director.

FOX13 has learned Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley, JR wants the mayor’s office to include community vetting of the finalists.

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How could that be accomplished? Pastor Earle Fisher told FOX13 that Memphis only has to look to the City of Little Rock as an example of how to open up the process for everyone.

In 2019, all the candidates to become the next police chief in Little Rock took part in community forums. Each candidate had one night designated for them and streamed live on the city of Little Rock’s Facebook page.

FOX13 watched the March 4, 2019 community forum when then candidate and Norma Oklahoma Keith Humphrey answered questions.

“I want to be held accountable,” Humphrey told the audience at the very start of his opening statement.

With a moderator present, someone can be heard asking Humphrey, “I am in a family that suffered at the hands of police-involved shooting. What is your policy on the aftermath and the follow-up to the family?”

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Humphrey answered, “It is okay to reach out to the family. Sometimes they need to know that you are not dehumanizing that individual that has been involved in that situation.”

The mayor of Little Rock selected Humphrey as his next chief of police.

Fisher believed the community forum used by Little Rock is a good way to select any police chief, director or commissioner.

“They also did not nick pick a group of citizens to coddle their mayor’s concerns. Instead, they held open forums with each candidate” said Fisher because “it gives the citizens an adequate opportunity to vet the candidate that is going to be held responsible for how their community is going to be policed.”

Smiley told FOX13 he’s writing a resolution to push the administration to hold a virtual community forum with the three finalists among the seven candidates selected to be the next Memphis Police Director.

Fisher told us, “this allows the people who will be tried by the fire to be tested by the fire on the front end.”

FOX13 emailed Mayor Jim Strickland’s office to find out if it will consider holding a community forum for people to ask the finalist questions.

The mayor’s office did not respond to our email.