City council votes to delay CLERB decision two weeks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Supporters and opponents of the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board attended the Memphis City Council meeting Tuesday, but they did not get an answer on the CLERB ordinance.

Councilmember Jim Strickland shared several changes to the proposed CLERB ordinance in the meeting before the public commented on the issue.

The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and Memphis United have supported increased civilian oversight over law enforcement.

Supporters of the CLERB ordinance have said the current board haven't had sufficient power to hold officers accountable.

That was why the ordinance asked for things like subpoena power, to be able to subpoena officers for CLERB investigations.

Strickland said the city's legal department weighed in on the ordinance and said the City Council couldn't give subpoena powers.

However, he said the ordinance said city employees had to cooperate with the process.

Strickland said the adjusted CLERB item indicated CLERB meetings would comply with open meeting laws.

He said the adjusted CLERB item didnot reference the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, although CLERB supporters reportedly planned to bring the matter to the County Commission.

Strickland also said the adjusted CLERB item would allow CLERB to review records after internal affairs does, but internal affairs wouldn't be able to delay that process.

Some supporters of the CLERB ordinance shared negative experiences they had with police officers.

The Vice President of the Memphis Police Association said she believed the police department already had the necessary process in place to oversee complaints about officers.

Finally, the Memphis Police Department asked for two weeks to review the adjusted ordinance before City Council voted on it.

City Council voted to wait two weeks.

Memphis United organizer Paul Garner said he was frustrated with the ongoing delays, but believed the adjusted ordinance would still be an improvement for police oversight.

He said the new ordinance would allow CLERB members and complainants to be present for hearings about police grievances, though that would not apply the entire public.

CLERB member David Acey said he believed any additional powers would improve CLERB.