Memphis Police Among Few Not Using GPS
(Memphis) Memphis Mayor AC Wharton says the technology is there and it’s needed after a deadly crash involving a speeding cop killed a mother and daughter.
He said it was only a matter of time before dispatchers would be able to tell where officers were and how fast they were driving.
The On Your Side Investigators discovered why more than a year later a system used to track police is not in place.
Over the years, the city of Memphis paid out millions of dollars in lawsuits involving Memphis police officers involved in accidents.
Sometimes the accidents are not their fault. Sometimes they are. Finding out the particulars can take months.
However, after a deadly Crump Avenue crash Mayor Wharton admitted GPS would help speed up investigations.
Three days after the accident, Wharton spoke to the media about the crash.
Wharton said, “There is technology readily available now that would enable us in real time to recall the route a car has taken from one point to another point. The rate of speed at any particular point along the way, which equipment was operating.”
The mayor said he’d immediately ask city council to find the money. That was August 2012.
More than a year later, there is still no system to track police cars.
WREG-TV found out there is not even a request for the funding.
Police Director Toney Armstrong says his administration is still trying to find the best system.
Armstrong said, “I wasn’t going to go before council and ask for something that I was going to have to come back in two or three years and say hey we made a mistake this wasn’t exactly the best system to get. Can we scratch this system and go forward with another system?”
After learning the system was not in place, Michael Ross, Crump crash survivor, was upset.
Ross said, “They’re still studying it. A whole family of people have been killed and they’re still studying it. Yea, they should have done it. It’s been a year and some months.”
Cities surrounding Memphis have these vehicle locator systems in place.
Germantown is one of them. Every second, officers on patrol are monitored.
Dispatchers at headquarters are able to track where they are, how fast they’re going, even if they’re sirens and blue lights are activated.
“It will be a great help to delivering our services quicker, faster, more efficiently to the community,” said Capt. Jodi Whitfield, Germantown Police.
Memphis says it wants to make sure the system it invests in, integrates with technology it already uses.
That is part of the hold up.
It also must figure out how to pay for it.
Mayor Wharton promised to ask the city council to find the funds.
Councilman Myron Lowery says that hasn’t happened yet.
“There’s no reason why we should not have a GPS in every city owned vehicle. We need to know where that vehcile is at all times,” said Lowery.
Lowery says council could move forward and buy a vehicle-locator system but the mayor’s staff is more equipped to handle choosing a system than a part time city council.
“Whenever the mayor says this is something we need in the city and this is something we must do, I consider that a promise. The mayor’s word is the mayor’s word and it should stand for something,” said Lowery.
WREG asked Little about the promise to track police cars.
“We’re going to support the director when he’s ready. When they’re ready to come forward with the proposal. I know they’ve been working on it. I know the vendor community is very interested and of course there are those like your station that have continued to monitor this particular issue,” said Little.
We asked Armstrong if it would take one month, two months, three months to find the right system.
He said, “I’m not going to give you a number but we’re close, we’re very close.”
Whenever the systems are installed it will never be quick enough for Michael Ross.
His girlfriend and daughter died when that officer crashed into them at the three-way intersection on Crump.
It is an accident Ross thinks should’ve never happened.
Ross said, “If he’d been monitored and watched, he wouldn’t have done this. He would have thought twice before he done it.”
He added, “It’s too late to save my family’s life but maybe this will help somebody else’s family”
The city of Memphis says a GPS system won’t be in place until at least next year.
As for the officer involved in the crash, he’s serving a six-month prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter.