Consultants to study Memphis Police discipline practices

Posted on: 5:45 pm, November 21, 2012, by , updated on: 05:51pm, November 21, 2012

(Memphis) A plan for a crackdown on Memphis police officers breaking the law or behaving badly was unveiled Wednesday.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Police Director Toney Armstrong announced the hiring of three consultants.

They’ll recommend possible changes to how the department disciplines its problem cops.

Two of the consultants are very familiar with MPD operations.

They are retired colonels.

The third is a Memphis pastor who has been an advocate for at least one of those involved in a recent critical incident.

They will assess the practices and policies of the MPD, especially when it comes to dealing with officers getting in trouble and making bad decisions.

“A lot of you keep asking why you keep having these incidents, are you tough enough on discipline. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know the answer,” said Wharton.

Mayor Wharton hopes those answers come from three consultants recently hired.

They are Retired Colonels, Billy Garrett and Bishop Mays and Rev. Keith Norman.

They’ll spend the next 60 days examining current discipline procedures and make recommendations about any changes needed.

“This is not some big investigation trying to find some dirty cops. It’s going in on the presumption that they’re all good cops. Now what is it that might come into your work life that might tip you over the edge,” said Wharton.

The goal is to rebuild public confidence from neighbors like those who live in the Wooddale neighborhood where 15-year-old Justin Thompson was shot and killed by off duty police officer, Terrance Shaw.

His family lived a few houses away from where the shooting happened but have now moved away.

“I looked over there and they were moved. I don’t know what’s going on with her but I really don’t believe what happened, happened,” said Mary Taylor, Wooddale Neighbor.

The consultants will make recommendations in disciplinary actions involving officers but some question if two retired officers are far enough removed to give objective opinions.

“So, I think it would just take someone that’s have an understanding of the law but at the same time have no connection with the police department,” said Eric Proffitt, Wooddale neighbor.

However, the Mayor and Armstrong believe the familiarity with the city and policies is actually an advantage.

“While they were here they were very objective. Very honest, very open with me. We had that kind of relationship. We had the kind of relationship where they felt they could say anything to me and make any kind I’d suggestions,” said Armstrong.

They plan to sett up a fraud and abuse hotline within MPD so all staff can anonymously report wrong doing.

They’ll also work on ethics training and search for ways to help officers cope with job related stress.