MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some Shelby County commissioners are asking for a closer look at the sheriff’s office and if it’s time for the department to get rid of specialized units.
An ordinance moving through the commission calls for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to disband and discontinue all specialized units and task forces and even end participation in multi-agency task forces. The Memphis Police Department got rid of one of their specialized units, the SCORPION Unit, after the beating death of Tyre Nichols.
There is also a call to look at who gets stopped the most by deputies.
While the sponsor of the ordinance backed away a little Wednesday and called for more study on the move and discussion with the sheriff’s office, it is something that commissioners and some citizens want to take a look at.
“Right now as it stands, we are operating without authority. We are making requests to another elected official,” said Commissioner Britney Thornton. “It seems like the opportunity for us is during the budget process.”
“There are certain people who get more citations on a stop than other people do,” said Joshua Adams with Memphis for All. “So black people get 90% of tickets that include two or more citations which is wild. That is freakishly disparred.”
While Commissioner Henri Brooks said a packet they were given with information explaining all of the sheriff’s office’s specialized units did not have anything comparable to the SCORPION Unit.
Two more ordinances are also under discussion. One ordinance would ban what is called biased traffic stops, limit searches, and question and limit use of unmarked vehicles. Another ordinance would require the sheriff’s office to compile data on arrests, traffic stops, and use of force.
But all of these are just up for discussion right now. There must be several readings before anything is passed and a lot of discussion with the Shelby County sheriff.