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Why is Memphis Police allowed to make traffic stops in unmarked vehicles?

In a press conference Monday, Tyre Nichols family’s attorney, Ben Crump, said officers involved in the confrontation leading to his death were in unmarked cars.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We are learning more details in the traffic stop that led to the death of Tyre Nichols. In a press conference on Monday, the family’s attorney, Ben Crump, said officers involved were unmarked. 

Tyre Nichols’ family attorneys were very clear when it came to traffic stops involving unmarked. They ask why. It is not only a concern that have but one many residents have expressed too.

It is the cries for justice that have led to questions. “We know that these officers, at least some of them, were from the organized crime unit. They were in unmarked cars. Why are they conducting traffic stops?” asked Antonio Romanucci, Ben Crump Law Attorney.

It is a question on many minds. “This is about a pattern and practice in so far as law enforcement is concerned that we’ve been trying to help reform or modify for years,” said Earle Fisher, Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor, Up the Vote 901.

Pastor Fisher has spoken out in the past about allowing unmarked vehicles to conduct traffic stops. 

“For me, this is about what we need to do to change the culture of policing. It’s not simply some training issue although that’s something,” said Bennie Cobb, retired Shelby County Sheriff Captain.

What is the policy when it comes to unmarked vehicles conducting traffic stops? Cobb said there are certain policies in place. 

“If a person is not stopping and you know as a police officer you’re in an unmarked vehicle or an undercover vehicle, you should absolutely call a marked vehicle to assist you,” said Cobb, putting into consideration the current climate with crime.

“There have been numerous cases where police imposters and impersonators have put lights on their vehicles or put sirens on just to impersonate a police officer,” said Cobb. 

Just as recently as early January, six men posed as police and carjacked a driver.

“Police officers know that a citizen’s expectation is that, 'hopefully you allow me to get to a safe place where it’s well-lit before I stop,'” said Cobb.

He said you can also call 911 to verify the unmarked car or request a marked vehicle. 

“Law enforcement has bigger issue to understand that citizens are concerned about this,” said Cobb.

“Instead of trying to change the system, make it more responsible,” said Pastor Fisher. 

Cobb also said that there are three types of law enforcement vehicles; those that are marked with markings on the side and visible lights, the unmarked which have lights on the inside, and undercover vehicles which do not have any.

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