The Memphis Police Department could be doing a better job of building trust with citizens if it fully adopted policing recommendations from President Barack Obama.
In the wake of the officer involved deaths of unarmed black men like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, Obama established the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in December of that year.
Leading law enforcement experts eventually made 59 recommendations to police departments across the country. More than a year later, fewer than 20 police departments have fully adopted those recommendations. Memphis is not among them.
"The President identified some areas that I think we definitely need to incorporate in the city of Memphis," said Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd. "We definitely need educational training for our officers. It's a situation, and I think also officers need cultural training."
The "task force" said for police departments to gain the public's trust, they must better engage communities hard hit by crime.
Black Lives Matter movement member Tami Sawyer said the recommendations from the President are exactly what MPD needs.
"We can even get to the issue of systemic racism, profiling and implicit bias are placing such a deep role in how police officers do their jobs. We can even get to that conversation, because we're so busy asking what does Black Lives Matter means," Sawyer said.
Sawyer said MPD Director Mike Rallings should fully and immediately adopt all the recommendations from the President.
But an MPD spokesperson said in a statement the department is doing just fine.
The statement read, in part:
"The Memphis Police Department continuously works towards ways of strengthening our community outreach efforts. Fortunately, MPD implemented several items that were mentioned within the pillars of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing prior to this report being released. For example, the importance of building trust within agencies and the community they serve and the importance of transparency."
Despite that claim, just last week the U.S. Department of Justice announced the launching of a comprehensive review of the Memphis Police Department, after citizens criticized the department’s use of deadly force and its treatment of the black community.
The announcement comes a month after the Justice Department completed its review of the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old black man by a white police officer in July, 2015. The review found insufficient evidence to charge the now former officer Connor Schilling with civil rights violations in the shooting of Darrius Stewart. Schilling shot Stewart twice during a fight that began when Schilling tried to arrest Stewart on an active warrant at a traffic stop.
© 2020 Cox Media Group