City Council To Discuss Removing Police From Civil Service System

MEMPHIS, TN — Memphis City Council members will talk Tuesday, July 7, about removing commissioned police officers from the city’s civil service system.

The specific proposal on the council committee list released Thursday afternoon is a referendum ordinance for the Nov. 3 ballot. The exact written proposal was not available Thursday.

But council member JB Smiley Jr. said earlier this week on the WKNO Channel 10 program “Behind The Headlines” that more police reform proposals would be before the council next week.

He declined to elaborate.

The proposal would eliminate the ability of police officers to appeal disciplinary actions, including firings made by police brass.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has said his administration will seek to change civil service protections that have allowed police officers found to have used excessive force to be returned to their jobs after police leadership ordered them fired.

Strickland said he intended to make changes to civil service appeals part of the negotiations next year of the city’s memorandum of understanding with the Memphis Police Association, the union that represents rank and file police officers.

The referendum appears to be a different method of addressing the issue by removing police officers from the civil service program.

The referendum ordinance is to be discussed at a 10 a.m. committee session Tuesday as well as a discussion of making changes to the police department’s reserve officer program.

The council is already discussing removing a referendum on the November ballot that would allow the city to hire police and firefighters who live outside Shelby County, within a 50-mile radius of the city or in an adjacent county.

That measure, sponsored by council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas, is up for the first of three votes at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The council approved a set of three nonbinding resolutions last month that call for public reporting of complaints against Memphis Police, adoption of the “8 Can’t Wait” set of reforms of police use of force and calling on Strickland to use a community task force as part of the process of hiring a new police director when Director Michael Rallings retires next year.

The council will continue to conduct its meetings, including the committee sessions, online after Gov. Bill Lee announced earlier this week he was extending the terms of the state’s emergency declaration, including allowing elected and other public bodies to meet online instead of in-person.

From The Daily Memphian