Some Call For Reinstating Memphis Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board

(Memphis) They stood before city hall, demanding action.

Three men, who represent 12 community organizations and hundreds of people, want a voice when it comes to complaints against Memphis Police.

“This isn’t about demonizing all police officers. This is about accountability within the police departmentand if the public has a complaint, it is gonna be addressed,” said Brad Watkins of Memphis United, a coalition of 12 community groups.

They say the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board, set up in 1994 after a controversial police shooting, has in essence been disbanded and has no power, giving people with complaints nowhere to go.

Memphis United met with police and city leaders Monday asking for the action.

Memphis CAO George Little said the Civilian Review Board is very much in existence and in the process of being revamped and getting new appointees.

“I think what you had was a board that got very little business, maybe two or three complaints tops. So those appointments did fall by the wayside, but it wasn’t a conscious decision,” said Little.

“Maybe the reason they have no complaints is they have created a process that is next to impossible for people to engage with,” said Paul Garner, who represents the Homeless Organization for Power and Equality.

Disgruntled citizens say the phone line for the board is one problem, it‘s rarely answered and they say the 90 days it takes to get a response, discourages people.

“It would relax the community and they will know the police is held accountable for their action,” said Jim Brown, who is also with the Homeless Organization for Power and Equality.

Memphis United plans to ask the city council to host community forums with information on the board and the selection process so citizens will have a voice.

“Without civilian oversight of law enforcement it‘s just police reviewing police and we know how well that works. It doesn’t clearly,” said Garner.

The city expects to have more details in a couple of weeks on where the review board stands.

Memphis United plans to present a resolution at the next city council meeting calling for public forums about the Civilian Review Board.

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