MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Notes: The video above is from a recording that aired on January 4, 2022.
Tennessee House committee passed HB105 Tuesday, February 15, eliminating residency requirements for first responders.
Many state representatives who voted no on the bill were outraged by its passing, questioning why legislators that do not live in Memphis pushed for a bill that exclusively affects Memphis.
“If I proposed a bill that only applied in Jefferson County that only pertained to Jefferson County, I would be met with the same reservations that I have right now because I don’t live in that county,” state representative Jesse Chism said. “Because essentially what we have here is a state takeover of the hiring practices of a municipality.”
State representative Larry J. Miler called the attempts of leadership and decision makers to override the Memphis City Council member's decision of the passing of HB105 “totally disrespectful.”
Originally, the bill applied to the entire state of Tennessee, but the bill was modified, and now exclusively includes Memphis.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis, Mayor Jim Strickland, and Davis' predecessor, Michael Rallings all expressed support for the new bill.
Memphis Police Department is currently facing a police shortage. The department’s traditional hiring process required potential employees to endure a six-month waiting period for training class openings.
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The bill’s passing is part of a hiring effort that lessens lengthy onboarding training requirements, allowing the police department to potentially recruit more than 300 new officers. The department has been hosting frequent job fairs.
Davis, eager to add new officers to the team, said applicants should be “ready to test” when they come to upcoming job fairs.
Assistant Chief Sawn Jones said, “We already know there’s an interest so we’re gonna to pull in as many of them as we can to get to that 300 number.”
The bill is scheduled for a full vote by the Tennessee House of Representatives.