MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police say the rollout of body cameras has not only helped hold officers accountable but also the public.
After years of talk and preparation, nearly 100 percent of Memphis police officers are wearing a body camera when they answer a call for service.
It might make an investigation longer, but MPD’s top brass said they’ve been a vital tool, especially when it comes to complaints.
“The officers love the cameras, and I’ll repeat what an officer told me. He said ‘Director, it keeps us straight and it keeps the citizens straight,'” said Police Director Michael Rallings.
As of Tuesday, 99.6 percent of officers are equipped with the technology. The 0.4 percent who don’t have them are those officers are on long-term leave or serving in the military.
Stats given at a public safety committee meeting on Tuesday showed overall complaints against officers has decreased by 39 percent from the various precincts. In some cases like in the case of the Old Allen Precinct in the Frayser-Raleigh area, complaints are down by 83 percent.
“We’re fact finders, and people may think that we’re trying to cover up or whatever. We’re just trying to figure out the facts. Sometimes the officer is wrong, and sometimes the citizen is wrong.”
In their presentation, MPD said they expect the number of complaints to continue to shrink, citing a Cambridge University study published in the BBC.
The study showed public complaints by officers fell by 93 percent over 12 months compared to the year before. Four UK and two U.S. departments were studied.
Paul Garner, the organizing director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in Memphis, has previously had his own personal complaints with the Memphis Police Department.
He said while the stats are encouraging, it’s also important for citizens to know how to file a complaint in the first place and know their rights.
“If you are just a lay person who has never had to interact with the police, it can be a very confusing and very overwhelming process to navigate through.”