Thursday, May 10, 2018

Police Oversight Board Demands Respect -- even if Mayor has to Replace the Police Chief

Dismissed by the police director and diminished by the mayor, the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board sought to find its footing in a meeting of firsts today.

CLERB members voted 10-0 to appeal to Mayor Jim Strickland to support the relevance of the board, calling for the replacement of Police Director Michael Rallings if necessary, and they voted unanimously to subpoena four officers who allegedly beat and maced Marcus Walker and his nephew in 2011 in an “initiation” type assault.
 Marcus Walker explains what police did to him seven years ago

Rallings has rejected every single CLERB finding that disagreed with police internal affairs and every recommendation about certain training or discipline of officers. The board has no independent authority to discipline officers and may do no more than make recommendations to the police director.

“Director Rallings is all but ignoring the board’s recommendations,” the board wrote in a letter which will go out to Mayor Strickland. “Unfortunately, Director Rallings has chosen…to render the board ineffective by rejecting all of our recommendations. Some of these cases involved unquestionable video footage, and it is beyond absurd that none of our recommendations have been accepted.”
CLERB member John Marek, Marcus Walker listen to discussion

“The members of CLERB volunteer our time, and currently, it is being wasted,” the letter to Strickland continues. “CLERB needs one of four things to take place before our board can be effective:

“1) Director Rallings to be reasonable and at least meet us in the middle on our decisions (compromise); 2) A new police director who will work with us; 3) A new ordinance that gives CLERB binding decision-making power, or 4) an amendment to the current ordinance, which gives appellate power to the mayor over the police director’s decisions.”

The request to subpoena officers is the first under the latest ordinances, since CLERB was revived in 2015 and its ordinance amended in 2016. CLERB was secretly disbanded in 2011 by Mayor A.C. Wharton’s administration and was only brought back after a strong grassroots campaign led by Memphis United and Paul Garner, organizing director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. The letter to Strickland was the first formal notice to the mayor about CLERB being disrespected -- although board members had been discussing it for a year.