Mayor Wharton back tracks on giving Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board more power

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mayor A C Wharton is calling for things to stay the same with the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board now, but  he was singing a very different tune not long ago.

The fact the administration recommended that the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board not be granted more power was a shocker.

"If the administration wanted to let the current law play out, we could have skipped all this and the administration could have said that well over a year ago," said Bradley Watkins, Executive Director of the  Mid-South Peace and Justice Center at Monday's CLERB Meeting.

"About the Civilian Review Commission, if we are going to have one just have one. I don`t believe in having an entity that has no subpoena power, can`t make anything do. This is why I have not sought to bring that back. It`s just illusory. They can`t compel anything, so if we are going to do that, it ought to be the real thing," said Wharton in a January 2014 speech.

Many people thought they were moving toward the real thing, a stronger board with whom city employees would be required to cooperate.

Documents would also have to be turned over to CLERB after Internal Affairs investigations.

Those are two things that don't happen now.

The Mayor's announcement would strike those changes.

Now the Mayor won't speak on the topic, saying he is waiting until CLERB's meeting Wednesday.

Some council members, who are also running for Mayor, said they believed the Civilian Review Board needs more teeth.

'We need an organization to be able to provide information to its citizens impartially. CLERB should be able to get information from MPD," said City Councilman Harold Collins.

"I think the committee structure the way it is now needs to be strengthened or frankly just do away with the process," said City Councilman Jim Strickland, who is running for Mayor.

CLERB meets Wednesday to go over the Mayor's proposal and come up with what it will present to the City Council next week.

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