Memphis City Council approves 5 of 6 policing ordinances on final reading

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 11:00 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Council members passed five of six ordinances that were up for a third reading Tuesday adjusting how police make traffic stops, train, and how the department itself is investigated.

Almost all city councilors voted in favor of two ordinances involving training and traffic stops.

They’ll require an annual audit of the Memphis Police Department’s training academy and techniques and require police to use marked vehicles for traffic stops unless it’s for “exigent” circumstances that risk harm to a person or property.

In council chambers, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis expressed her support for both ordinances.

“We agree to expand out training and get input from other individuals,” she said. “We do diversity and inclusion training and plan to have other entities as we expand training for our officers.”

Councilman Chase Carlisle, who asked for Chief Davis’ input on some ordinances Tuesday, says it was important to get her side.

“We don’t want our police officers to not be able to enforce laws or public safety, but we want to make sure the public themselves feels safe and that there is an accountability and a transparency,” he said.

When it comes to the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) two more ordinances will give the board the power to investigate use-of-force complaints and require MPD to report case recommendations on police complaints from the public.

A fifth ordinance requires MPD to regularly report data on traffic stops, arrests, and complaints using a database system with public access.

Councilman JB Smiley Jr. says he was elated with the developments.

“They put laws in place that will change the way police interact with everyday citizens, will change the way the media accesses data, will change the way the general public will learn what’s transpiring within the Memphis Police Department,” he said.

An ordinance preventing traffic stops for minor traffic violations was pushed until the council’s next meeting by Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas because she wanted the language in the ordinance to be as clear as possible.

The City Administration released a memo Tuesday saying they, along with MPD, were only in support of two ordinances, and only if changes were made to them: an annual review of MPD’s training academy and reporting data on traffic stops, arrests and complaints.

You can read the memo here:

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