MPD and MFD Chiefs called to present reform proposals at Memphis City Council

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:32 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis and Memphis Fire Chief Gina Sweat were called before Memphis City Council’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

The request was made by Chairwoman, Councilwoman Rhonda Logan, for both chiefs to present department reform proposals, following the death of Tyre Nichols.

The January 7 traffic stop that ended with Nichols’ death three days later has already resulted in 6 Memphis Police Department Officers, 2 Memphis Fire Department Emergency Medical Technicians, and 1 Memphis Fire Department Lieutenant being fired, so far.

Chief Sweat was up first.

She spoke at length about the recruiting and retention problems MFD faces, but Councilwoman Logan cut her off.

“I’m going to stop you right there,” Logan said to Sweat. “The request was specifically for focusing on immediate actions to be taken, regarding departmental reform.”

Sweat would later state that “(MFD) continue(s) to look at accountability. That starts from the top down, and we have to continue to have those conversations. We are constantly reviewing our policies, so this will definitely prompt us to review those again.”

Next up, Chief Davis remarked on departmental reforms she had already implemented during her time as chief.

She spoke on leadership training, and how MPD is in short supply of supervisors, and she also spoke on updating MPD’s disciplinary process.

“There is more oversight that keeps us from allowing these types of incidents from happening,” Chief Davis said.

Over the course of Tuesday morning’s meeting, protestors trickled into the City Council chamber.

During Davis’s remarks, one protestor yelled “None of this would’ve kept Tyre alive.”

What came as a shock to many inside the chamber was when Jennifer Sinks, the city’s Chief Legal Officer, came beside Davis at the podium and said there were 7 additional MPD officers being investigated for the Nichols’ traffic stop.

That’s 13 officers in total, including the 6 former officers who were fired for their involvement in the Nichols’ traffic stop.

Sink said those other 7 will be given their notices of violations this week.

“The investigation believes that they violated (policy). There will be a hearing so that they have the opportunity to be heard. Then, there will be a written decision with the outcome,” Sink said.

“We knew that number was more than 5,” said Paula Buress, one of the protestors who spoke to us after the meeting. “The race thing people were talking about was untrue. We saw white hands. We saw black people. We saw MFD. We saw SCSO.”

After the chiefs’ remarks, Logan and other councilors felt their presentations weren’t satisfactory.

“An overview of the things they are doing is not necessarily what we were looking for,” Logan said. “I think they understood that, and I look forward to hearing specific reform measures that are going to be put in place.”

Chief Davis and Chief Sweat have been requested to appear before the next city council meeting with reform plans in the form of written proposals.

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