Memphis Police Department wants residents to fill out survey on use of force

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the midst of on-going tension between law enforcement and communities across the country, Memphis Police say they want to hear from you.

The Memphis Police Department wants to know how and when you feel officers should use force when someone is resisting arrest, fighting an officer or not following an officer’s commands. 

You can answer these questions in an online survey. It takes you through several scenarios and then asks what kind of actions you feel are appropriate for officers to take.

For example, one video shows a subject pushing and wrestling with an officer. The question asks if you feel it would be appropriate for that officer to use a baton to restrain the subject. It also asks if you think using a taser would be appropriate.

“It’s really about what’s fair to do in that particular situation,” Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said.

Rallings is using a company called Response to Resistance to conduct the survey. He says civilian answers will be compared to responses from 70,000 officers across the country.

“It’s incredibly important,” Rallings said.

But State Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis feels the survey is misleading because some questions ask if you agree with multiple techniques.

“If I were to answer ‘yes’ in that question, I wouldn’t be giving my true answer because some of the techniques inside that catch all question I did not agree with,” Parkinson said.

Josh Spickler is a criminal justice system reform advocate with an organization called Just City. He doesn’t believe the survey will change anything.

“The problem is not whether someone uses a baton or not,” Spickler said, “What we’re looking for is accountability and transparency when things go wrong.”

Rallings conducted a similar survey back in 2017 but claims only a few thousand people took it. He’d like to see hundreds of thousands this time. If enough people respond and if there’s a consensus for change he says he’ll certainly consider it.

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