Policy & Oversight
Law enforcement agencies should collaborate with community members to develop policies and strategies in communities and neighborhoods disproportionately affected by crime for deploying resources that aim to reduce crime by improving relationships, greater community engagement, and cooperation.
The department’s director hosts quarterly town hall meetings at precincts, community centers, libraries, and other public forums. Citizen opinions are solicited and reviewed to improve training and implementation of policies. Extending surveys to citizens of Memphis – for completion – is a data-driven appraisal and reflection of ways the department can reduce crime, improve community relations, and enhance public confidence. Most importantly, this feedback allows the department to gain a holistic perspective for public perception of what community engagement should represent.
Law enforcement agencies should have comprehensive policies on the use of force that include training, investigations, prosecutions, data collection, and information sharing. These policies must be clear, concise, and openly available for public inspection.
The department has a comprehensive set of policies related to the use of force that include training, investigations, data collection, and information. The department does not have a set of policies associated with prosecutions because that is a function of the Shelby County District Attorney General’s (SCDAG) Office and not a function of the department. The policies have been made available to the public through the department’s website. In addition, the use of force data available through the Inspectional Service’s Annual Report. Also, closed cases are available for public inspection pursuant to state law. .
Law enforcement agency policies for training on use of force should emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate.
The department’s policy and procedures places an emphasis on de-escalation during interactions with citizens and is a cornerstone of the training given to officers during academy training. The department also provides policy guidance related to alternatives to transporting arrested individuals to a detention facility. In many instances, officers may issue misdemeanor citations for misdemeanor violations in lieu of transporting the person to the appropriate detention facility. In addition, the issuance of juvenile summons is the preferred method of charging juveniles with delinquent acts.
These policies should also mandate external and independent criminal investigations in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths.
The current policy requires that the SCDAG’s office be notified when there is an officer involved shooting that results in a death or when there is an in-custody death. The SCDAG will then request the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to conduct the external investigation. If an individual is seriously injured as a result of an officer using force, the responsibility for investigating the matter rests with the Memphis Police Department, unless the SCDAG’s office decides to contact TBI to handle the case.
Policies on use of force should also require agencies to collect, maintain, and report data to the Federal Government on all officer-involved shootings, whether fatal or nonfatal, as well as any in-custody death.
The current policy does not require the reporting of data to the federal government related to officer involved shootings or custodial deaths; however, documentation (LEOKA packet) is completed and submitted to TBI in relation to all officer involved shootings. The current policy requires that the department collect and maintain the relevant data and should be updated to reflect this action item. *
Policies on use of force should clearly state what types of information will be released, when, and in what situation, to maintain transparency.
The department’s response to resistance policy specifies that Response to Resistance Reports are internal administrative instruments and are not to be released without the expressed permission of the director.
Law enforcement agencies should establish a Serious Incident Review Board comprising sworn staff and community members to review cases involving officer-involved shootings and other serious incidents that have the potential to damage community trust or confidence in the agency. The purpose of this board should be to identify any administrative, supervisory, training, tactical, or policy issues that need to be addressed.
The City of Memphis currently has an independent Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB). The board is comprised of individuals who reside and maintain residence in the Memphis city limits. Members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council. The board works to ensure a fair and equitable review of serious incidents involving officers to assert public confidence. The CLERB consists of members to include: a law enforcement official, or person with a background in criminal justice; a member of the clergy; and additional citizens-at-large. Their primary goal is to review grievances of citizens who have complaints against any member of the Memphis Police Department.
Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to implement a nonpunitive peer review of critical incidents separate from criminal and administrative investigations.
The department has a team of specially trained peer counselors that work with mental health professionals to conduct confidential non-punitive critical incident debriefings for all critical incidents. There are regularly scheduled debriefings with specific units, such as homicide and crime scene, as well. Debriefings are also available for any incident, critical or not, at the request of an employee.
Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to adopt identification procedures that implement scientifically supported practices that eliminate or minimize presenter bias or influence
The Memphis Police Department has adopted specific identification procedures that implement scientifically supported practices that eliminate or minimize presenter bias or influence. MPD has a policy that covers multiple aspects of the identification process to include the acceptable ways upon which an identification can be conducted. MPD provides victims and witnesses with an Advice of Rights to a Photographic Lineup Form that explains the practices while viewing a photographic lineup.
All federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies should report and make available to the public census data regarding the composition of their departments including race, gender, age, and other relevant demographic data.
The Memphis Police Department reports departmental demographic data when submitting information to the Law Enforcement Management Statistics (LEMAS) database. The department also makes demographic data available on its website.
Law enforcement agencies should be encouraged to collect, maintain, and analyze demographic data on all detentions (stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests). This data should be disaggregated by school and non-school contacts.
The Memphis Police Department collects and maintains demographic data from the issuance of summons, citations, and arrests. The data is collected related to stops, frisks, and searches only when the contact results in some form of formal enforcement action. The data is analyzed using descriptive statistics. School contacts is not a variable that is currently collected.
Law enforcement agencies should create policies and procedures for policing mass demonstrations that employ a continuum of managed tactical resources that are designed to minimize the appearance of a military operation and avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust.
The department has adopted the Mobile Field Force (MFF) concept for medium to large scale demonstrations. MFF is designed to be scalable, which allows for demonstrations to be safely monitored by a minimal number of officers, which reduces the perceived militarization of the department’s response. MFF provides a rapid, organized, and disciplined response, designed to restore civil order if needed, by utilizing the least amount of force, equipment and personnel necessary. MPD values the safety of its officers as well as the citizen’s right to assemble and be heard. The Memphis Police Department does not have this in writing as a policy, but steps are being taken to create a policy to comply with this recommendation.
Law enforcement agency policies should address procedures for implementing a layered response to mass demonstrations that prioritize de-escalation and a guardian mindset.
MPD partners with neighboring agencies (local, state, and federal) to create a layered response utilizing the Emergency Response Plan and the incident command system to respond to mass demonstrations in a manner that promotes public safety and trust.
MPD utilizes MFF trained officers to respond to demonstrations. In addition to the patrol officers that have been trained in MFF operations, all new officers get MFF training, as well as de-escalation training, while in the academy as part of their curriculum.
Some form of civilian oversight of law enforcement is important in order to strengthen trust with the community. Every community should define the appropriate form and structure of civilian oversight to meet the needs of that community.
The City of Memphis has a Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) as a mechanism of civilian oversight, which consists of members of the community from backgrounds.
Law enforcement agencies and municipalities should refrain from practices requiring officers to issue a predetermined number of tickets, citations, arrests, or summonses, or to initiate investigative contacts with citizens for reasons not directly related to improving public safety, such as generating revenue.
The department does not have a practice that requires officers to generate a predetermined number of tickets, citations, arrests, summons, or investigative contacts not related to improving public safety. Per Tennessee state law, it is unlawful for agencies in the state to issue quotas to officers.
Law enforcement officers should be required to seek consent before a search and explain that a person has the right to refuse consent when there is no warrant or probable cause. Furthermore, officers should ideally obtain written acknowledgement that they have sought consent to a search in these circumstances.
The Memphis Police Department provides specific instruction for obtaining consent when there is not probable cause or a warrant for a search, including a “consent to search” form, advising that all individuals have the right to refuse a search and assert their constitutional protections.
Law enforcement agencies should adopt policies requiring officers to identify themselves by their full name, rank, and command (as applicable) and provide that information in writing to individuals they have stopped. In addition, policies should require officers to state the reason for the stop and the reason for the search if one is conducted.
The Memphis Police Department is committed to having all of its officers identify themselves by name to the public they serve. Memphis Police Department policy requires officers to provide greetings in a courteous manner. This includes identifying themselves by name and title, and explain the police action reasonably as possible under individual circumstances. In support of this commitment, department policy requires every employee to carry an updated photo I.D. card that identifies the employee and must be provided upon request to other members of the department or by a private citizen. MPD policy does not require this information be provided in writing at this time.
2.11.1 Action Item:
One example of how to do this is for law enforcement officers to carry business cards containing their name, rank, command, and contact information that would enable individuals to offer suggestions or commendations or to file complaints with the appropriate individual, office, or board. These cards would be easily distributed in all encounters.
The Memphis Police Department has established in policy that all members are required to provide their name and badge number to a citizen upon request. MPD policy does not require this information be provided in writing at this time due to financial constraints.
Law enforcement agencies should establish search and seizure procedures related to LGBTQ and transgender populations and adopt as policy the recommendation from the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/Aids (PACHA) to cease using the possession of condoms as the sole evidence of vice.
The Memphis Police Department policies require officers to respond to individual requirements for dignity in personal searches. The department is researching this policy to ensure it is reflective and considerate of all communities.
Law enforcement agencies should adopt and enforce policies prohibiting profiling and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, housing status, occupation, or language fluency.
The Memphis Police Department fully supports policies that prohibit profiling and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, housing status, occupation, or language fluency. The Policy and Procedures of the Memphis Police Department prohibit discrimination of anyone who receives services from the department. MPD policy specifically states, “A member shall at all times consider it his or her duty to be of service to anyone in danger or distress and shall neither discriminate against nor show partiality for any person because of race, sex, religion, friendship, fraternal or social affiliations, or for any reason.”
The City of Memphis requires all employees to complete Title 6 training every year and MPD policy also directly prohibits profiling “for any reason.” MPD is considering adding all categories in this recommendation to policy in the future.