Team monitoring MPD conduct to speak at public forum

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Is this Memphis Police Department complying with a federal judge's order regarding social media searches? That's the question the public will be able to ask at a Community Engagement Forum hosted by a specially appointed monitoring team.

Former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton is heading up a court appointed team to monitor the Memphis Police Department. It was found that MPD violated sections of a 40-year-old consent decree relating to "conducting political intelligence" by spying on protesters through a fake Facebook account.

"In essence, we are the yes and ears of the court to insure that the police department is in full compliance with the consent decree," Stanton said.

He says police have been mandated to change protocols and procedures, and he hopes a public forum scheduled this week will show citizens efforts are well underway.

"We want feedback, we want to insure that we hear from the community, as well as advise the community, of the work we've done to this point."

Stanton says the monitoring team is made up of a former police chief, social media and first amendment experts, as well as legal experts.

A website with information on court filings and finding by the monitoring team is up and running. Stanton says so far MPD and the city's legal staff have been cooperating.

But will the court-appointed monitors get a thumbs up from everyone?

"If them folks would never got caught, they would still be doing it. They'd still be going against the law," Black Lives Matter organizer Frank Gotti said.

He has no doubt the police monitored his social media account, especially after the movement gained support.

"The police started watching me. They started being outside my house. They started being everywhere. I had a meeting to go to. That's how they knew my every move. They were watching my Facebook."

The Community Engagement Forum is Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church on North Bellevue.

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