MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If this were a greeting card moment, the sentiment would be something like this. “Dear Memphis Police. We love you. Love, the Memphis City Council.” Councilman Harold Collins had to say to the department’s big brass, “The council believes in this department.”
Several cops have been in big trouble recently. One of them is being investigated for shooting and killing a 15-year-old kid. Another was charged with DUI in Mississippi. The investigating officers found a bottle of moonshine on him as well.
So sure, the council believes in the department. But the council is not your Momma. Love comes with conditions. Police can’t break laws, and if they do, they’re supposed to be punished. In the last four years, 21 of them have been fired.
“I thought that was a bit low,” says Councilman Jim Strickland. “It was lower than what I had expected, with the number of arrests we’ve had. I thought there would be more firings. But there haven’t been, and we’re going to find out why.”
Deputy Police Director Don Boyd told council members most of the 21 who were fired weren’t college graduates. The rule was changed two years ago. Now anybody who wants to be a police officer needs at least two years of college. Jim Strickland says that’s not enough. “A college degree would give us a better applicant pool and people who would not cause trouble,” he says.
Most police officers stop trouble; they don’t cause it. But clearly, some do. The city human resources department is looking into the entire police process right now; the hiring and firing, the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly.
“Overall we’re looking at our disciplinary policies,” says Memphis H.R. Director Quintin Robinson. “We want to make sure they have teeth in them, to make sure they are being applied fairly and consistently.”
Robinson wants his entire process wrapped up in 90 days. The council wants to hear more in 30.