Memphis police chief reassigns SCORPION Unit officers to other specialized units

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 7:04 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said on Thursday he supports Police Chief CJ Davis’ decision to reassign SCORPION Unit officers after she said Tuesday at Memphis City Council that at least 30 officers have been reassigned to other specialized units.

“They’re moving into other organized crime units, such as auto theft, task force, and those other areas,” Davis said. “These were individuals not involved in this incident.”

The “incident” Davis referred to was the Jan. 7 traffic stop by SCORPION Unit officers that led to the death of Tyre Nichols.

Regardless of whether these other officers were involved, some people disagree with reassignment being the resolution to fix police culture.

Pastor Dr. Earl Fisher of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church says the issue paints a bigger picture.

“I don’t see how that mentality is addressed if indeed you simply just re-distribute these officers to other departments. You would think that might lead to the contamination of other departments,” said Fisher.

Pastor Fisher says in order to get at the heart of what’s hurting the community, officials need to have open discussions.

“This is something I feel she and Mayor Strickland have dodged for quite some time, and so far as having concrete direct conversations with some of the most fierce activism advocates for criminal justice reform over the last several years,” said Fisher.

Mayor Strickland said under Chief Davis’ leadership, the city has asked the Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police to do an external review of the department’s operations and make recommendations.

Among potential changes, Strickland said the Memphis Police Department is currently exploring how to ease a shortage of supervisors.

“This year, we’re actually going to test and promote many more sergeants than we normally have ever done,” said Strickland.

Mayor Strickland said testing for promotions is being developed right now. It will be conducted sometime in late spring or early summer. No word yet on what those qualifications will be.

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