CLERB to hear old police complaints under proposed change

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Between August 2011 and June 2014, the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board didn't function at all.

Memphis United, a coalition of grassroots organizations and community groups that is pushing to give the board more power, said that during that time complaints got lost in the system, and they want to rectify that.

"I tried to call Internal Affairs, and they kept referring me to a phone number that didn't exist," said Marian Bacon, who filed complaint against police.

Bacon said when two police officers harassed and intimidated her in 2013, she wanted to learn more about what happened after she filed a complaint. Internal Affairs referred her to CLERB. She called and left a message, but no one ever called back.

"There was no notice given to the public or the council," Bradley Watkins of Memphis United said. "In fact, it was still up on the city of Memphis website with a voice mail box that was never answered."

No one answered because CLERB stopped operating in August 2011. For four years, Internal Affairs sent letters referring people with questions about their case to the board.

"We want to make sure that every single person that filed a complaint with Internal Affairs or with CLERB has the opportunity to have their hearing heard," Watkins said.

Memphis United said it wants people like Bacon to finally have their case presented to CLERB, if they still want to. The union representing police officers said it doesn't think that is fair.

"It's just unreasonable to ask an officer to remember what happened in 2011 based on a complaint," Officer Marcus Tucker said.

Under these changes CLERB will also have the power to compel police officers to testify, which the police association is also against. Tuesday the union will ask the city council to vote down the proposed changes.

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