MPD Director talks President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing

The Memphis Police Department has not fully and formally adopted the 59 recommendations in President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, but MPD has been using and implementing much of what is in the Task Force's final report for years and will continue to do so.

“We can identify 49 (recommendations) that we were already doing or that we have recently implemented, even before the 21st Century Policing report came out”, said MPD Director Mike Rallings.

President Obama created the Task Force in December of 2014, in the wake of police involved deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City and growing tensions between minority communities and police forces around the country.

Local activists and critics of MPD held protests in July, a year following the death of Darrius Stewart, an unarmed black Memphis teen, killed by then MPD officer Connor Schilling.

Rallings said Memphians should not fear for their lives if they are stopped for a traffic violation.

“The reality of it is is that a person has a 0.000007-percent chance of being involved in a lethal encounter with a Memphis Police officer,” Rallings said.  “But that's not good enough, because if the perception is out there that our citizens fear an encounter with the Memphis Police Department, then we have a lot of work to do and we are fully committed to do that work.

While not formally adopting the Task Force recommendations, Rallings said the ideas and recommendations contained within the report serve as a guide to building a better police force, even the tough recommendations about dealing with bad cops.

“If we find that the officer violated policy the officer receives corrective action that could range from termination to suspension to sensitivity training to some other kind of corrective action,” Rallings said.