MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There are changes ahead for Memphis Police in the wake of the Tyre Nichols beating, but some former officers would like to see MPD take some lessons from past initiatives.

City council has already passed new rules on how police do their job but some are calling for a return to what they say worked in the past — true community policing — saying it went away when the department started focusing on numbers instead.

Back in 2005, Larry Godwin was the Memphis police director, and the focus was on finding new ways to reduce crime in Memphis.

Godwin, who was new in his role as director but had years of experience on the MPD force, was taking a bold new step in fighting crime. It was called Blue Crush — policing based on stats that showed where the crime hotspots were located and then deploying officers to those areas.

Godwin, now retired and living outside Knoxville, says Blue Crush worked.

“In two hours we had 70 arrests. In 3 days we had over 1,200, and they were all for drugs, weapons, quality of life crimes, prostitution warrants,” Godwin said. “Crime fell dramatically in that precinct.”

But many say Blue Crush came at the expense of what had been in place years before: community policing that put officers in COACT or “community action” units inside neighborhoods, where they were visible, developed relationships with the residents, and knew who was causing problems.

Former Memphis Police Lieutenant Tyrone Currie worked with community policing and says everything changed when new leadership turned to another crime fighting strategy.

“We moved away from prevention and intervention and just focused on law enforcement,” Currie said. “But as you see now, that isolated us from bringing the community in to create innovative solutions and strategies to fight against  crime.”

Now, he and others say it’s time to go back to community policing to tackle crime in Memphis.

“I do think the COACT of old is the answer to the crime problem, the violent crime problem that we are facing today,” Currie said.

Godwin sees it another way.

“I think the best thing we did with community policing was Blue Crush, and the reason why I say that is, we gave the citizens back their neighborhood. We allowed them to get involved. We partnered with them,” he said. “And one of the main ways we did that was through a Cyber Watch.”

He says it allowed citizens to go to a website and pull up crime in their own neighborhood and even email the precincts.

“You gotta have something like that to partner with the community on a daily basis, for everybody’s on their phone,” Godwin said. “Everybody is on the computer or somebodys on the phone. I don’t think walking around like we did back in the ’80s, early ’90s is the way to do it.”

Godwin said after seeing the video of Nichols’ beating, he found it appalling and against everything police officers are taught.

Tyre Nichols and Memphis Police: What we Know

As for those controversial special units — like SCORPION, which has been permanently disbanded since the death of Tyre Nichols — Godwin sees the value but knows you can’t forget the details.

“One thing about specialized units, you’ve got to have very strong supervision,” he said. “You really need some seasoned, hard lieutenants that know the mission, know the plan, and carry those plans out.”

He says you must also determine if the training is getting through.

“But are they getting it? Are they failing? Are we passing them, or are they getting it, and then getting in the field and not using it, which scares me even more?” he said.

Godwin believes the Tyre Nichols case will cause police departments across the country to look at their specialized units and traffic stops, and reinforce the basics.

“Remember your training,” he said. “Remember who you work for. You remember to treat our customers with respect.”