MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Saturday, the Memphis Police Department announced they have disbanded the SCORPION unit. Five officers from that unit were fired for their role in the death of Tyre Nichols.
Friday, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis told WREG how the unit was supposed to operate.
“The whole idea was to have more visibility be laser-focused on repeat offenders, those individuals we know are committing violent crime in the community,” Davis said.
She says the officers who have now all been fired, arrested, and charged with second-degree murder defied their training.
“Everything about traffic stops. They have all kinds of de-escalation training. We take them off the streets every eight months so they can have a de-escalation moment, have an opportunity to do some retraining,” Davis said.
She says the officers’ actions that led to Nichols’ death showed there was a problem not just with the training, but with the police culture in Memphis.
“You can have all of the ideal policies but if you have a culture that doesn’t have supervision, that doesn’t have adherence to the policies, then you’ve got problems,” Davis said.
Davis says it is also time to not only think about additional training for officers but for leaders within the police department.
“You can never do enough leadership training, not just at the top level but also at the mid-managed level,” Davis said.
She says she also understands there are people who believe she should also lose her job. However, Davis says she has no plans on stepping down.
“People may question my leadership, but I would like to say that I have stood and have done the work as it relates to managing an organization, what’s important to an organization, and the changes I have made here,” Davis said.
She says some of the failures that led to Nichols’ death are due to a lack of staffing.
“I’ve also asked the city to give me 125 sergeant positions, those field-level supervisors because our department is woefully unsupervised. That’s one of the issues that I noticed when I first came here,” Davis said.
She says the swift action of the officers being fired should have not come as a surprise to anyone on the Memphis Police force.
“I have told them, in person, when you commit a crime in my police department you don’t get to wear the badge, you don’t get to wear the uniform,” Davis said.