The Color Divide

It was my hope, maybe naive hope, that the issue of residency rules for Memphis Police Officers would not divide the City Council down racial lines, but it did. We could have argued for residency rules based on so many other reasons: economics, effectiveness, or civic pride to name a few. But instead the City Council has allowed itself to be seen as a group divided by race. A charge it should have done all in its power to have avoided.

In a city where we are ranked second in the nation in violent crime and first in property crime you would think we could come to a consensus rather quickly. I understand and appreciate the importance of taking care of our own first. Insuring a Memphis job for a resident of Memphis is reasonable and the work of an officer goes beyond the 9 to 5. Who wouldn't want a cop living next door to them? Such neighbors create stability in communities and build civic pride. With that in mind I can't fault those Council members who supported residency.

On the other hand Memphis is dangerously deficient in police officers compared to other cities our size. For years MPD has rolled out the welcome mat for Memphians to join the force with little success; issues such as previous offenses and limited education has plagued many residents who have applied.

In the end the most important thing is that we have the officers on the beat. I appreciate Harold Collins resolution to allow the city to hire police officers who live within twenty miles of Shelby as long as they pay a $1,200.00 yearly fee. This might take some of the heat off those non-residents, but to me this seems overly punitive and that might be the last thing we want to do right now.

My recommendation would have been two-fold. First, for the short term we open the hiring process to any one capable and willing to serve no matter where they live. If we must show favoritism then create a point system. A few consideration points if you live outside Memphis but in Shelby County and a few more points in you actually live in the City. Second we look long term and start devoting more resources to early career path recruitment. I have spoken with Robert Lipscomb who heads “THE” LeMoyne-Owen College Board and suggested that LOC become an early training site for youth considering joining the police force in the future. This would not only improve the college’s declining student numbers but would pluck up youth in and around LOC before they go down the wrong path.

No matter what, we must get a handle on crime. Its impact on business growth, middle class flight, and education is well documented. So it is my hope that the Memphis City Council can do a little self policing and chart us a course to success.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

This council is no different than the city. Blacks and whites just see the world differently.

The whites agree with those that left Memphis and the blacks don't.

The whites don't want to punish people who left and blacks do.

The whites think all cops will treat you fair and black know that's not true.

Anonymous said...

What you have is that the Whites on the council want to go outside of Memphis because you will find more White police officers there.

Anonymous said...

This council is turning out to look a hole lot like the old council. Useless.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving Reginald and thanks for your hard work.

bp said...

LOOK WE NEED COPS, THESE ELECTED PEOPLE NEED TO GET TO WORK AND GET THIS TAKEN CARE OF. I DON'T GIVE A RAT'S BUTT IF THE COP COMES FROM MEMPHIS OR THE MOON!

Anonymous said...

You take the segment of the population that understands what it takes to form a strong union, and you'll find that most of them are conservatives. You take the segment of the population suffering from varying degrees of clinical narcissism and general lack of emotional control & intellectual rigor, and you'll find that most of them are democrats.

Anonymous said...

The City Council better focus on what they're going to do with an ever decreasing budget. With real estate crashing there is less property to tax due to less houses being build and the value of the houses already build falling.

Anonymous said...

A save face compromise is desperately needed. The council members seem to have dug into their positions and are really stuck there. They are unable to compromise at this point due to stubborn pride which is a totally unacceptable, irresponsible way to govern.

A geograpical boundary does not mean the person will be more or less effective as an officer.

City Councilors quit being stuck on stubborn! Protect the citizens and all who come to Memphis to work, play and shop...hire qualified candidates no matter where they choose to live.

Anonymous said...

this dam this is all about race, the black council want to hire in the city to get more black cops and the white council want to hire outside the city to get more white cops.

Anonymous said...

This is why Memphis will always be a second rate city!!! The city council is pathetic!!!! No one wants to live in a crime ridden city. Who cares were the cops come from or what race they are. Soon it will not matter because many are leaving Memphis for Nashville and other top notch cities. Come on Memphis Wake Up!!! Do we always want to be a second rate city????? All members of the city council who votedthis down should be ashamed! What ignorance!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I disagree Reginald. It should be Memphis jobs for Memphians. These people who left Memphis have done nothing but put this City down. Don't give me a cop that's not from here.

BP said...

JUST PUT SOME POLICE OFFICERS ON THE STREETS PLEASE! WHEN A 11 YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRLS IS SHOT WHEN IN HER OWN HOUSE WE NEED LAW AND ORDER!