MEMPHIS. Tenn. — Use of police force is a hot topic these days but how much is too much, what situations is it necessary and when can it be avoided?
Memphis police hope a new nationwide survey will help them gauge people’s understanding of use of force tactics.
MPD released a similar survey in 2017 but the department said community response was low. That’s why MPD is urging people to respond to this one.
But some activists believe the survey isn’t about Memphis and its specific relationship with police.
There are five scenarios in this nationwide survey about police force. It begins by outlining a few details such as this encounter stems from a lawful arrest, the subject knows they’re under arrest and they’re intentionally resisting the officer’s commands.
FOX13 showed this survey to law enforcement analyst Michael Collins and community activist Theryn C. Bond.
Collins believes the scenarios are realistic.
“It’s very useful for a civilian that might not understand or see these particular dynamics through the course of a police offices' line of duty,” he said.
But Bond believes the survey is skewed.
“The questions were guiding toward the officer’s protection and what was best for the officer and not necessarily all parties involved,” said Bond. MPD told FOX13 the survey results will be analyzed to see if the department’s Response to Resistance techniques are within the community’s expectations.
Collins said these results could help with community education about force.
"If they thought the officer was overly aggressive in use of force continuum one where he was just using verbal commands, and the citizen may ask “did it take all that?” well maybe so in different situation, this helps answer that," said Collins.
But Bond believes the results won’t be helpful because the survey questions aren’t about Memphis police encounters, and they scenarios don’t factor in race.
“The way that law enforcement treats our Caucasian counterparts is very much different than how they treat black or brown folks, none of that was mentioned in this survey. None of the day-to-day interactions, situations, age factors, socioeconomically none of that was factored into this survey,” said Bond.
According to Response to Resistance, the company behind the survey, national responses show very little disagreement or variance between what citizens and trained officers believe are “objectively reasonable” responses regardless of race, age, or gender.
Once the results are in, MPD said they will determine if there should be any police changes.
The survey will be available until October 8.
Cox Media Group