MPD to use annual report, community feedback to examine department’s use of force

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — MPD Director Michael Rallings told FOX13 the department will look at the results from a survey taken by Memphians along with the latest use of force numbers from the annual 2019 report to decide if they need to improve in the area of use of force.

“We’ll look at the results from what the citizens of Memphis thoughts was reasonable and then compare it to law enforcement,” he said.

People here in Memphis are the key to a new response to resistance survey, which will allow MPD director Michael Rallings know how police can better serve the city of Memphis.

It gauges how people view officers' use of force tactics and if it’s reasonable.

Rallings said he’s trying to get the word out after a similar survey in 2017 only had 3,000 Memphians participate.

This time around, he wants 100,000 to take part.

RELATED: MPD calls for community feedback to use of force survey

“We’re going to really utilize this and breakdown to data and we want to make sure that we understand how your responses compare to the 70,000 police officers that have been placed in the database,” Rallings said.

Rallings said over a thousand people took the survey already on the first day.

He said this survey is timely considering the climate around the country when it comes to police and the use of force while making arrests.

“We are seeing unprecedented times with COVID and what we’ve seen with the outrage on how law enforcement encounters our citizens,” he said. “But this is again your chance. We want to hear from you.”

The latest use of force numbers from the annual 2019 report showed MPD responded to 884 incidents that required some level of force. There were 894 officers involved.

But, it also shows MPD’s resistance incidents decreased by 9% from 2018, but still used force in more than half of arrests involving resistance.

Methods used most often were physical force, a baton, chemicals, and tasers.

Rallings also spoke on MPD banning the use of no-knock warrants back in June.

He said this plays a part in improving in the area of use of force.

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“If a member of the Memphis Police Department is to serve a warrant we want to make sure that everyone knows that it is a police officer,” he said. “We want a marked unit on the scene. We want the officers to be in a uniform that’s clearly marked. Not their plain clothes. Something that says police are there in uniform.”

The annual report doesn’t list any recommended policy changes for MPD.

But Director Rallings said this information helps him identify problem areas as well as highlight successful trends.

“Ultimately it is our goal to give our citizens of Memphis the level of police services that they desire,” he said. “And there’s no more important to talk about today than how police respond to resistance. How police use force.”