Civilian review board feels it has 'no power' when overseeing MPD

Civilian review board feels it has 'no power' when overseeing MPD
Published: May. 20, 2018 at 9:12 PM CDT|Updated: May. 21, 2018 at 5:07 AM CDT
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Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings (Center) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings (Center) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) is tasked with investigating allegations of police misconduct, but it's chairman said instead of providing oversight, it's all just one big show.

The board was all but dead a few years ago, but the City of Memphis reinstated it in 2016.

Its chairman, Reverend Ralph White, said he hoped things would be different.

"We were there. We met, but we really had no power to do anything," he said.

Instead, White said Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings has rejected every recommendation CLERB has offered, including disciplinary action for some officers and more training for others.

"When we come to a consensus that this is what we recommend, because you see different from the board, you become judge and jury by yourself. I think that's unfair," White said.

Rallings' staff said he wasn't available for an interview, but sent the following statement:

"We support the process. However, we may not reach the same findings on an incident [CLERB has] reviewed."

"I think the director is a great guy, but when it comes to these issues we disagree," White said.

For the first time since its reinstatement, CLERB plans to subpoena a police officer in one of the cases it's reviewing.

White is curious to see how much cooperation the board gets not only from that officer, but from MPD.

"We want a safe police department for our people. At the end of the day, our people and our citizens, they're the ones who count," White said.

CLERB is in the process of writing a letter to city leaders, including the mayor, outlining its concerns and suggesting possible solutions.

City Councilman Worth Morgan, who served as a liaison to CLERB, said he believes the city council would do a better job of investigating police misconduct.

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