Pillar One

The Six Pillars of 21st Century Policing

Pillar One

Building Trust and Legitimacy

1.1 Recommendation:

Law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian mindset to build public trust and legitimacy. Toward that end, police and sheriffs’ departments should adopt procedural justice as the guiding principle for internal and external policies and practices to guide their interactions with the citizens they serve.

Members of Memphis Police Department embrace the guardian mindset, and continuously reinforce this mindset through academics taught at the Memphis Police Training Academy. Through basic recruit training, annual in-service training, and specialty training, the department is committed to providing a well-balanced curriculum that emphasizes the necessity of job-related knowledge, accountability, compassion, and professionalism. Departmental training methods are not only utilized for employees; they are shared through our community efforts when hosting training sessions with citizens within our great city. Moving through new ways of policing in the 21st century, the Memphis Police Department has changed the way of policing through incorporating more training related to de-escalation, crisis intervention, community policing, culture diversity, ethics, etc. Although other training such as firearms, radio communications, and law are vital to the performance of a law enforcement officer, we continuously reevaluate our training methods for the betterment of the citizens that we serve and the officers who are sworn to protect and serve our community.  Furthermore, the guardian mindset and procedural justice are also reflected in the department’s vision that is found in the Memphis Police Department Policy and Procedures Manual. In part stating, “to create and maintain for the City of Memphis an environment of public safety recognized for its intolerance for crime and its compassion and responsiveness to the needs, rights, and expectations of all citizens, employees, and visitors.”  This is also included in the MPD’s policy and procedure manual within the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, which is signed by all sworn officers.

Additionally, significant principles emphasized throughout the department are community engagement, building relationships with the community, and earning the trust of our community. Building upon community relationships is paramount; this is interwoven in many of the classes taught at the training academy to MPD personnel. Another way this is supported is with the Memphis Police Department Citizen’s Police Academy and Clergy Police Academy. In each academy, citizens learn how the department functions and the department’s procedures through a series of classes that are hosted by the department. Participants ask questions and are provided answers concerning departmental procedures and the law. Participants also learn how they can assist law enforcement in crime-fighting efforts and how they can get involved to make their community better.  This effort is enhanced with the utilization of MPD’s Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch, Youth Crime Watch, and Apartment Watch Programs, which meet often. During these meetings, citizens and officers work side-by-side to speak openly about concerns within the community. By working together, resolutions and action plans are developed to address issues and concerns.

1.2 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should acknowledge the role of policing in past and present injustice and discrimination and how it is a hurdle to the promotion of community trust.

Members of the Memphis Police Department Community Outreach Program (COP) and training academy staff teach both basic law enforcement academy classes and in-service training classes on topics that focus on the relationship between law enforcement and the community. The lesson plans include, but are not limited to, discussions about cultural awareness, biased based policing, cultural diversity, de-escalation, police corruption, and fair and just policing.  Members are also updated on changes to both statutory and case law. An example is Tennessee v Garner, which is a U.S. Supreme Court case involving an officer-involved shooting that occurred in Memphis, TN. This case was the cornerstone that established the standard that a fleeing suspect must pose an immediate danger to officers or the public to justify the use of deadly force. 

Furthermore, training sessions cover examples of discriminatory policing practices from the past and present. Numerous current and historical examples are discussed to challenge members to explore their own potential implicit biases that could impact the way they interact with the public.

Additionally, all recruits that attend the Basic Law Enforcement Course at the Memphis Police Department Training Academy participate in a day event at the National Civil Rights Museum. Incorporating a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum gives all newly hired recruits an eye-opener to what occurred locally and nationally during the Civil Rights Movement.

1.2.1 Action Item:

The U.S. Department of Justice should develop and disseminate case studies that provide examples where past injustices were publicly acknowledged by law enforcement agencies in a manner to help build community trust.

This is an action item for the U.S. Department of Justice and is outside the scope of the MPD.

1.3 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should establish a culture of transparency and accountability in order to build public trust and legitimacy. This will help ensure decision making is understood and in accord with stated policy.

Transparency is critical to the goal of developing community trust. It is the policy of the Memphis Police Department to work with the public in a transparent manner through regular interaction and information sharing.

MPD regularly shares information on its social medical platforms such as the Memphis Police Department’s Facebook page (@mpd1827), Twitter (@MEM_PoliceDept) and YouTube (Memphis Police Department).

Additionally, information is provided to local and national news outlets to ensure that the public is kept abreast of current events. Citizens can use these social media platforms to provide information directly to MPD personnel. When providing information to the public relative to ongoing investigations, citizens are encouraged to report tips through CrimeStoppers to assist with solving crimes. This allows citizens the ability to assist with fighting crime in our community while remaining anonymous. Transparency is also critical when investigating criminal cases and/or complaints against members of the police department. MPD’s investigative bureaus work closely with victims and witnesses throughout all investigations to keep those involved up-to-date on the progress of their investigation. MPD’s Inspectional Services Bureau also works closely with any individual who seeks assistance relative to filing a complaint on a member of MPD. During each encounter with a member of the public, department members strive to treat all citizens with dignity and respect while remaining transparent and respecting the integrity of an investigation.

1.3.1 Action Item:

To embrace a culture of transparency, law enforcement agencies should make all department policies available for public review and regularly post on the department’s website information about stops, summonses, arrests, reported crime, and other law enforcement data aggregated by demographics.

The Memphis Police Department Policies and Procedure manual, with the exception of policies that contain sensitive law enforcement information such as Handling of Bombs, Public Acknowledgement of Plain Clothes Officers, and Decoy Vehicle, are available for public review on the Memphis Police Department website (www.memphistn.gov).  Also, MPD’s Annual Reports and Inspectional Services Annual reports are available for review.

In addition, in 2019 the City of Memphis launched a Data Hub that provides details relative to current criminal offenses that occur within the City of Memphis jurisdiction. This Data Hub can be found at www.data.memphistn.gov. Through this Data Hub, citizens can review and track current and historical crimes that occur in a specific neighborhood and or citywide. Citizens can choose incidents within certain dates, boundaries, select specific incident types, and see what has occurred near their points of interest. Offense and traffic crash reports are available for public review through MPD’s Central Records Office or by filing an open records request through the City Legal Division. Records from MPD’s Central Records Office can be obtained in person (170 North Main, 7th floor) or via phone at 901-636-3560. An open records request can be filed electronically through the City of Memphis website, www.memphistn.gov.

The department acknowledges the need for additional information to be provided online to the public; we will continue our efforts to increase transparency by evaluating available information and making this information public as it is developed.

1.3.2 Action Item:

When serious incidents occur, including those involving alleged police misconduct, agencies should communicate with citizens and the media swiftly, openly and neutrally, respecting areas where the law requires confidentiality.

The department has a Public Information Office that is committed to providing updates to the media and public through MPD’s social media platforms. Information is swiftly delivered in a timely manner; however, must ensure that the integrity of all investigations is taken into account. It is the departmental goal to provide accurate information without compromising ongoing investigations. Media outlets and the public are kept abreast of current events and are updated on investigations concerning serious and or newsworthy incidents, as well as those involving alleged police misconduct by way of social media. The Public Information Office regularly posts on Facebook (@mpd1827), Twitter (@MEM_PoliceDept), and YouTube (Memphis Police Department) in addition to providing media interviews, responding to media inquiries, and responding to direct messages from members of the community.

1.4 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should promote legitimacy internally within the organization by applying the principles of procedural justice.

All employees are encouraged to recommend policy revisions. Policy suggestions are often received from members within the department in which they are reviewed by MPD’s Accreditation and Research Unit.  The Memphis Police Department, being a nationally accredited department, is committed to achieving the best practices available to law enforcement agencies and strives to achieve the utmost professional standards to serve the community. 

The department promotes internal legitimacy with the principals of procedural justice with policies and disciplinary procedures. When an allegation is made against a member of the department, the employee is notified of allegations in a timely manner. In accordance with the memorandum of understanding with the Memphis Police Association, members are permitted to have a representative of their choosing present during any administrative investigative interview and hearing process. Additionally, all members are afforded due process and there is an established grievance and appeals process for all discipline administered to members. 

1.4.1 Action Item:

In order to achieve internal legitimacy, law enforcement agencies should involve employees in the process of developing policies and procedures.

All employees are encouraged to recommend policy revisions. Policy suggestions are received from members from any rank and are reviewed by MPD’s Accreditation and Research Unit.  The Director of Police Services or his or her designee will have final approval.

1.4.2 Action Item:

Law enforcement agency leadership should examine opportunities to incorporate procedural justice into the internal discipline process, placing additional importance on values adherence rather than adherence to rules. Union leadership should be partners in this process.

The department promotes internal legitimacy with the principals of procedural justice within the disciplinary process. Review Boards (Accident, Use of Force, etc.) are comprised of all levels of the chain of command, from patrol officer to commander, and are utilized to review and recommend, corrective action, values and skills training and whether an incident should be submitted to the employee’s chain of command or Internal Affairs for formal investigation.  Furthermore, when an allegation is made against a member of the department, the employee is notified of allegations in a timely manner. In accordance with the memorandum of understanding with the Memphis Police Association, members are permitted to have a representative of their choosing present during any administrative investigative interview and hearing process. Additionally, our members are afforded due process and there is an established grievance and appeals process for all discipline administered to members.

1.5 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should proactively promote public trust by initiating positive nonenforcement activities to engage communities that typically have high rates of investigative and enforcement involvement with government agencies.

The Memphis Police Department often participates and or hosts positive non-enforcement activities to engage the community. Community engagement is at the forefront and is emphasized by the Director of Police Services down to uniform patrol. Every MPD member is expected to conduct themselves in a professional, positive, and respectful manner. MPD has a very active Community Outreach and Neighborhood Watch Program that continuously works within the community to build upon our relationship with the citizen of Memphis.

The goal of the Memphis Police Department is to use every opportunity possible to engage with the public in positive encounters. MPD not only facilitates adult lead programs such as the Neighborhood Watch Program, Business Watch Program, Ambassadors Program, Citizens Police Academy, Clergy Academy, etc., but MPD also hosts many youth programs such as city-wide summer camps, Boy Scouts, D.A.R.E., Youth Crime Watch, Leaders of Tomorrow.  

1.5.1 Action Item:

In order to achieve external legitimacy, law enforcement agencies should involve the community in the process of developing and evaluating policies and procedures.

The Memphis Police Department is actively engaged with the community and solicits feedback and recommendations regarding policies and procedures.

The Director of Police Services, members of the command staff, and commanders from all workstations often meet with members of the community to discuss concerns and policies of the MPD. Additionally, through the Neighborhood Watch Program, members of the community are asked to submit any suggestions related to policy and or officer interaction with the citizens of Memphis.  

1.5.2 Action Item:

Law enforcement agencies should institute residency incentive programs such as Resident Officer Programs

The Memphis Police Department does not have a residency incentive program. However, the department currently offers relocation reimbursement up to $5,000.00 for relocation expenses to qualifying newly hired police.

1.5.3 Action Item:

Law enforcement agencies should create opportunities in schools and communities for positive nonenforcement interactions with police. Agencies should also publicize the beneficial outcomes and images of positive, trust-building partnerships and initiatives.

The Memphis Police Department has many opportunities in schools and the community for positive non-enforcement interactions with police. The department has a D.A.R.E. program that works with middle school students throughout the city. The department also participates in career days and community fairs throughout Memphis. Additionally, the MPD Community Outreach Program works in the community regularly, conducts meetings, and offers different activities with youth and others. Positive images and summaries of MPD and community engagements are provided to the public via MPD’s social media platforms.

1.5.4 Action Item:

Use of physical control equipment and techniques against vulnerable populations – including children, elderly persons, pregnant women, people with physical and mental disabilities, limited English proficiency, and others – can undermine public trust and should be used as a last resort. Law enforcement agencies should carefully consider and review their policies towards these populations and adopt policies if none are in place.

Officers should only use the necessary amount of force to safely accomplish their duties.

Whenever possible, officers should allow individuals time to submit to the officer’s commands before force is used.  Officers should react to the amount of resistance shown by a subject and then determine the amount of force that is reasonable and necessary to safely take the subject into custody during a lawful arrest. However, MPD recognizes for all response to resistance situations, certain individuals may be more susceptible to injury.

Unless there are exigent circumstances, the use of less-lethal weapons, such as conducted electrical weapons, are discouraged for the following individuals: children, elderly, persons of small stature regardless of age, possibly pregnant or pregnant individuals, individuals with a pacemaker, and individuals obviously in poor health.  Additionally, a basic Spanish language course, including key phrases that assist officers when encountering individuals with limited English proficiency, is taught at the Memphis Police Training Academy. This course helps officers develop clear communication skills that will aid officers interacting with individuals with limited English proficiency. MPD’s Training Academy also offers advanced Spanish-speaking courses for those officers who want to strengthen their Spanish speaking abilities. In addition, MPD has many Spanish speaking officers who can assist when needed. 

1.6 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should consider the potential damage to public trust when implementing crime fighting strategies.

The Memphis Police Department considers the potential damage to public trust when implementing crime fighting strategies. The goal is to create long term solutions that will assist in crime-fighting efforts for the betterment of the community.

Newly implemented crime-fighting strategies are often shared with members of the community through our Neighborhood Watch Programs, Clergy Academy, Citizen’s Police Academy, and our social media platforms.

1.6.1 Action Item:

Research conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of crime fighting strategies should specifically look at the potential for collateral damage of any given strategy on community trust and legitimacy.

The department strives to work with the community in our crime-fighting strategies to minimize the negative impact on the community. We utilize Blue C.R.U.S.H (Crime Reduction Using Statistical History) to reduce crime and develop plans for crime trends pro-actively. Using statistical data allows the department to better serve the citizens of Memphis. Through the City’s Data Hub, crime data is accessible to the public so that members of the community can stay informed on what is occurring throughout the city.

Additionally, the Public Information Office strives to maintain transparency with the Memphis community by providing real-time information relative to incidents of public concern, newsworthy incidents involving officers, positive officer and community interactions, and information regarding ongoing investigations.

The department also ensures openness at various community forums in addressing questions and concerns. In addition to nine community forums that are hosted throughout the city at every precinct, such as Neighborhood and Business Watch meetings, the Community Outreach Program hosts various community-focused events monthly.  These constant interactions improve the trust and transparency within the community and the police department.

1.7 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should track the level of trust in police by their communities just as they measure changes in crime. Annual community surveys, ideally standardized across jurisdictions and with accepted sampling protocols, can measure how policing in that community affects public trust.

MPD has conducted annual community surveys in the past and will continue to do so. The Community Outreach Program (COP) regularly conducts surveys with different focus groups examining how they perceive the department or a particular program that is being performed. MPD has also posted a survey on the departmental website for members of the community to complete and provide feedback. Additionally, MPD conducts a Response to Resistance survey for the citizens to participate. This survey allows citizens to experience real-life scenarios that officers face as it relates to response to resistance.

By participating in the survey, MPD and citizens are able to compare citizens’ responses to how law enforcement officers respond. The goal of this survey is to maintain an understanding of the proper use of reasonable force to aggressive behavior.

1.7.1 Action Item:

The Federal Government should develop survey tools and instructions for use of such a model to prevent local departments from incurring the expense and to allow for consistency across jurisdictions.

This action item is directed to the federal government and is outside the scope of the Memphis Police Department. The department has participated in and requested community participation in several national surveys. 

1.8 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should strive to create a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience, and cultural background to improve understanding and effectiveness in dealing with all communities.

The Memphis Police Department follows the City of Memphis’ Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and strives to hire a diverse workforce that reflects the population of the City of Memphis. The recruitment team annually evaluates the recruiting process to reach citizens of various backgrounds and encourage all to join the department.

As a direct result of recruitment efforts, the department has seen an increase in our minority hiring percentage over the past years. Currently, the MPD racial and ethnic demographic breakdown consists of 1, 243 African Americans, 875 Caucasians, 10 Hispanics, and six members of other racial or ethnic groups.

1.8.1 Action Item:

The Federal Government should create a Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative designed to help communities diversify law enforcement departments to reflect the demographics of the community.

This action item is directed to the federal government and is outside the scope of the Memphis Police Department. The Memphis Police Department recognizes the importance of diversity within our workforce.

1.8.2 Action Item:

The department overseeing this initiative should help localities learn best practices for recruitment, training, and outreach to improve the diversity as well as the cultural and linguistic responsiveness of law enforcement agencies.

Memphis Police Department recruiters attend training courses that offer established best practices for recruitment. Emphases are placed on the importance of recruiting qualified applicants to select those who can provide the best services to the citizens of Memphis.  Recruitment training consists of and focuses on geographical and multicultural prospecting by officers who are familiar with or live within the culture to improve the diversity of linguistic responsiveness. To reach and employ diverse demographics to which the department serves, the MPD Recruiting Team adheres to and executes its action plan to recruit in areas conducive to its targeted demographics. The MPD administration understands the importance of linguistic responsiveness by ensuring all community members feel that they have the same rights as others.

Throughout basic recruit training and required annual in-service training, courses on culture diversity, implicit bias, culture awareness, fair and justice policing, de-escalation, conflict resolution, and police ethics are taught to enforce MPD’s goal on community relations.

These methods are carryout throughout the department to ensure that officers are well versed in proper technics that assist with interacting with the public.

1.8.3 Action Item:

Successful law enforcement agencies should be highlighted and celebrated and those with less diversity should be offered technical assistance to facilitate change.

While this is an action item for the Federal Government, the department continuously works with other law enforcement agencies and organizations to evaluate best practices in order to provide up-to-date training on diversity issues.

1.8.4 Action Item:

Discretionary federal funding for law enforcement programs could be influenced by that department’s efforts to improve their diversity and cultural and linguistic responsiveness.

The distribution of discretionary federal funding is at the sole discretion of individual federal agencies. As a result, this action item is outside of the scope of the Memphis Police Department.

1.8.5 Action Item:

Law enforcement agencies should be encouraged to explore more flexible staffing models.

The Memphis Police Department supports flexible staffing models within the department. The department utilizes reserve officers and temporary workers to fill positions. The department also utilizes Police Service Technicians (PST) to handle traffic crashes, parking violations, traffic control, and various other duties throughout the department.  Using PSTs allows sworn officers to concentrate on more serious enforcement activities.

1.9 Recommendation:

Law enforcement agencies should build relationships based on trust with immigrant communities. This is central to overall public safety.

The department has policies and procedures in place dictating the department’s role when contacting immigrant community members.  Our mission is the preservation of life and property through procedural justice regardless of immigration status.  Also, the department has the discretion to provide immigrants some protections who become a victim, witness, or immediate relative related to a specific crime through the U-Visa process. The department strives to build trust within the immigrant communities through our Community Outreach Program and by working with local immigrant victim rights advocates.

Additionally, MPD has liaisons that work with various immigrant communities throughout the city. These liaisons help immigrants understand the role of the department and assists with any concerns they may have related to law enforcement. Our liaisons, along with other others, often meet with these communities to discuss current events and action items that can be addressed within their communities. In doing so, this helps the immigrant communities build trust with officers, and these communities are more willing to assist and provide information when incidents occur in their neighborhoods.

1.9.1 Action Item:

Decouple federal immigration enforcement from routine local policing for civil enforcement and nonserious crime.

The Memphis Police Department will protect and defend all persons consistent with current local, state, and federal law and afford all person’s justice and the full protection of the law.  A police report and or investigation are not contingent upon a person’s citizenship status or recognizable identification.  Memphis police officers will take reports of crime that occurred within the City of Memphis from any individuals who need to file them, regardless of their citizenship status.

 All individuals, regardless of citizenship, are entitled to basic rights and privileges which are set forth in common law, state and federal law, and the United States Constitution. In addition, undocumented immigrants and or foreign speaking persons may be entitled to rights and privileges set forth in the Vienna Convention and other international laws.

The Memphis Police Department does not participate in federal immigration enforcement activities and only contacts U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services on drug or other criminal charges involving moral turpitude and or a felony.

1.9.2 Action Item:

Law enforcement agencies should ensure reasonable and equitable language access for all persons who have encounters with police or who enter the criminal justice system.

The department works to mitigate the language barriers with members of the community and to protect their rights through numerous means, including recruiting employees with multiple language skills and utilizing private companies’ translation services (Language Line).  The Memphis Police Department ensures reasonable and equitable language access through using bilingual officers for on-scene and follow-up investigation. If a bilingual officer is not available, the Language Line translation service is then utilized. The most prominent language in the Memphis area is English and Spanish. To assist with the growing number of Spanish speaking citizens, the recruiting team focuses on ways to recruit officers that are bilingual. Additionally, although basic Spanish speaking courses are provided to all officers, an employee incentive program has been initiated that provides additional training and a certified level of Spanish proficiency for MPD officers.

Also, the 911 Communications Bureau has immediate access to Language Line and a TTY phone to communicate with citizens who may be deaf or hard of hearing. UBiDuo communication devices are also available for officers to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing citizens. MPD continues to work toward recruiting bilingual employees to better serve the community.

1.9.3 Action Item:

The U.S. Department of Justice should not include civil immigration information in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database.

This action item is directed to the U.S. Department of Justice and is outside the scope of the Memphis Police Department.