MEMPHIS, Tenn. — WREG reported on the five new laws that were passed at the Memphis City Council meeting to address police reform in the city following the beating death of Tyre Nichols.
Now, we are learning state law may contradict some of these changes. Which would mean these new laws could be invalid.
WREG spoke with the Memphis Police Association today, who said these changes may have been made more to appease the public, but it might not actually carry much weight.
They pushed for change. They called for action, and they succeeded. Friday night, we’re learning, it could all mean nothing.
John Covington with the Memphis Police Association explains today that some of the ordinances passed at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, contradict state law. One of those includes the one that prohibits unmarked cars from conducting traffic stops.
“If there’s going to be a difference between state law and city ordinance, then state law is going to prevail in that situation,” Covington said. “State law specifically allows law enforcement officers to use unmarked cars for ‘any purpose.’ So, I think that’s going to run into a real issue.
He also anticipates similar issues, when the council is expected to vote in favor of ending pretextual traffic stops. That means stops for non-emergent issues, such as an expired tag or a busted tail light.
“I get trying to address these things, but also you kind of get into an issue, are you just kind of placating people when in reality this should be a bigger discussion,” Covington said.
Memphis City Council Vice Chair JB Smiley said the role of the council is to do exactly that.
“Our job is to ultimately bend to the will of the people. We are the representative body, that means we represent the people. If the people want to see laws changed, our job is to reflect the general will of the people,” Smiley said.
He said he is confident these ordinances are in compliance with state law, and if there’s an issue, they have yet to hear about it.
The Memphis Police Association said they expect the state will reach out to the city within the near future to discuss these concerns.
Meanwhile, at last night’s CLERB meeting, the board voted to travel to Nashville to address this if need be.