SCLC Calls For Better Police Training

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(Memphis) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died fighting to improve working conditions for Memphis sanitation workers.  45 years after his murder, the organization Dr. King started, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wants to help city police officers.

The SCLC Memphis Chapter says police officers are sometimes afraid for their lives when they serve warrants like the one Officer Martoiya Lang was serving.  She was shot and killed while serving a drug warrant last month.  The SCLC says there are ways to keep our officers safe.

Here are some of the recommendations the Southern Christian Leadership Memphis Chapter makes to Memphis Mayor AC Wharton about the city’s police department.

The highly trained TACT unit should make entry on all high risk warrants. The police department should conduct monthly firearms and entry training.  Counseling should be done away from the police department. There should be training on how to handle vicious dogs at target locations. We asked where these recommendations came from.

“That came directly from persons who we receive information who are part of the Memphis police department,” said Montgomery.

Dwight Montgomery says former deputy director of Memphis police, Ernest Dobbins, serves on the SCLC board. He says Dobbins helped draft some of the recommendations but other suggestions are coming from current officers that want change but are afraid of asking for it publicly.

“That's why we're coming forward. That's why we wrote the letter to the mayor,” said Montgomery.

“Certainly, we've taken the letter and we've reviewed it and we appreciate their input,” said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

Armstrong says there’s always room for improvements but he’s confident officers are well trained. He cites the number of warrants served versus the number that go wrong.

“You have to understand we executed about 469 search warrants last year and the good part about that you didn't hear about 467 of them,” said Armstrong.

Montgomery plans a forum on Dr. King’s Birthday, January 15, to discuss the recommendations and changes. He’s hoping Wharton and Armstrong are there. The last SCLC forum was cancelled because the mayor didn’t come. News Channel 3 asked the mayor if he’d be there this time.

“I received the invitation and I don't handle my own schedule but I'm 99% certain, I'm going to be there,” said Mayor Wharton.

The SCLC Meeting is scheduled for 6:30pm next Tuesday at Mt. Moriah East Baptist Church. The community is invited.