MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tuesday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the Memphis Police Department will not lose funding, but rather needs to improve training. Strickland and MPD Director Michael Rallings announced the launch of the website "Reimagine Policing in Memphis" as a tool to increase transparency between the department and citizens.
"On this new site citizens can file a complaint, view policies and procedures, and the demographics of the Memphis Police Department," Strickland said.
Improving policing in Memphis has been at the forefront of discussions between local pastors, stakeholders, Strickland, and Rallings. The new website is what the city and MPD hope will be the start of improving community relations and accountability.
"This new site will provide guidance and understanding to any individual or group interested in truly learning what our officers do and don’t do," Strickland said.
Rev. Dr. J. Lawrence Turner, who has been in on these meetings, said the website is a way to begin much-needed change.
"When we’re talking about comprehensive change if this is going to be the mechanism for fielding the ideas and solutions I think it is actually pushing back from the conversations that need to happen," Turner said.
The website, which will be managed by the City's administration, will allow citizens, who feel a police officer acted unjustly toward them, to file a complaint or concern. Complaints against officers will be accessible to the public through the Open Records Law, but Strickland and Rallings said it could be some time before complaints are handled.
"This moment in the life of our nation and the life of our city requires is a much deeper probe into the systemic issues that are plaguing our communities," Turner said.
One of the top priorities of the meetings was to strengthen the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB), so it can have more power when handling complaints and issues with MPD. Turner said CLERB is a great tool in our community that we need to utilize for restoring public trust.