Monday, November 24, 2008

Keep It In The Family

I heard the taped conversation this morning between Ben Ferguson and Jeff Lee about relaxing the MPD residency requirements. At first I wondered, could Jeff really believe the stuff he was saying? Then I thought about who was involved, and it suddenly made perfect sense. They have changed the game. This is now a Clear Channel thing.

Ben isn't going to back up off of this issue. Much to the contrary, looks like he's turning up the heat. Jeff Lee is a team player. He is used to taking blows for the team. He takes them from Mike Flemming on (Black and White) all the time. According to a recent WREG poll, Mike Flemming is rated #1 in the city. Ben has the lowest rating on that station. This gives Jeff Lee a chance to gain some brownie points back after the Michelle Obama comment he made. And give Ben a target at the same time.

Now Ben and the white councilman are running commercials on a popular black radio station every hour on the hour, hammering the point home to a younger audience. This rift between Ben and Jeff was planned. Now the station has a player on both sides. Since obviously there's going to be drama. Keep it in the family.


Blogger Common said...

MPD recruiting should be national
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twenty-two months ago, the Memphis City Council agreed to relax the city's residency requirements for a two-year period and allowed the Memphis Police Department to recruit any new candidate who wanted to live in Shelby County.

The current residency requirement does not prevent recruiting from outside the Memphis city limits. We should be recruiting officers from all over the country.

Anyone can apply to be a Memphis police officer. The residency policy now in effect requires any new hire to move within the boundaries of Shelby County within six months of their employment. They are not required to live in Memphis. They may live in Collierville, Germantown, Bartlett, Millington and unincorporated areas of Shelby County. This policy remains in effect for all hires through February 2009.

While the Police Department has lowered the educational standards, because it now only requires a high school diploma, I believe we should be doing a better job of recruiting. The television advertising campaign for new recruits just started in October. We should have been doing this months ago.

I simply do not understand why Memphis is finding it difficult to find qualified men and women to join our Police Department. For the past five years the department has returned more than $3 million a year to the city's general fund. These dollars should have been used for recruitment of and salaries for new officers.

While some may feel this is an issue of race, crime affects everyone, regardless of color. We need more officers, and the council will consider additional ideas at its next meeting to make this happen as soon as possible.

Myron Lowery

Chairman, Memphis City Council

To fill the ranks, explore all options

I want to thank the Memphis Police Department officers, regardless of where they live, for their dedication and for risking their lives to protect us. I support and applaud their service. I recently rode in a squad car for one night and, trust me, our men and women of MPD serve us well.

And after a very tough first meeting as a newly elected councilman (Nov. 19 article, "City nixes police residency proposal / Memphis council turns back expansion plan"), I remain certain about the huge opportunities ahead for Memphis and the three-state economic region it anchors.

While I was disappointed in the vote, I was more upset that my new colleagues did not seem be open to dialogue on any compromise that Councilman Jim Strickland and I pleaded for. Did the citizens elect us to "win" and "lose" on matters before the council? Did they not elect us to do the hard work of finding common ground that benefits our entire community?

I understand that the resolution is not a complete solution to reduce crime and that over the long term we must address the socioeconomic issues that drive people to criminal activity. I understand the concerns about police officers from "outside" who might not act in the best interest of our citizens. We must discuss solutions for both these issues. Is it not true that in the near term, expanding the pool of police applicants is essential?

While I wholeheartedly support enhancing MPD's efforts to hire within Memphis, do we have the luxury of picking and choosing tactical strategies to fight crime? Shouldn't we in the near term check the "all of the above" box for ways to increase public safety?

Operation Safe Community calls for 750 more officers (including attrition) in three years. According to MPD, there are approximately 1,000 applicants per year and our acceptance rate is 17.8 percent, yielding 178 new police officers per year. (The national average for acceptance is 2.5 percent.) Even if we tripled applicants to 3,000, at our acceptance rate we would still be 216 short of the goal.

In short, that is why residency should not matter. Can we work together to find a workable approach on this most sensitive matter? It's my prayer we can.

Kemp Conrad

Memphis City Councilman Super District 9, Position 1

Turning a blind eye to crime

Have City Council members been living under a rock where they have not been subjected to a growing crime issue? I am disappointed and appalled that the City Council voted to reject a resolution that would help to increase the number of police officers in our city.

I am from Memphis, and I love Memphis, but I have serious concerns about where we are heading.

Some council members want an investigation into MPD hiring practices. I agree. Just look at the "actual" criminals they've hired in the past. But while the investigation ensues, I also want my family to feel safe in the city that we call home.

The council needs to understand the bottom line. We must be a progressive, not regressive, city in the type of economic circumstances in which we now find ourselves. The bottom line is not residential tax dollars, but corporate tax dollars. The city's top corporate citizens have endorsed the resolution, but the City Council rejects it? Where are our priorities?

Every day I read the newspaper and see crime moving closer to my home. My husband and I have spoken about relocating to a different city. We have done this for a number of reasons -- our top two being corporate opportunities and raising our daughters in a safer city. What my husband and I want is to feel safe in our home and on our streets. We want corporations to move here and remain in our city to provide careers and jobs that afford our family and other Memphians greater opportunities.

Our city deserves more. Our City Council must rethink its vote on this resolution.

Margaret Young


The issue is leadership

When I attended the council meeting Nov. 19, I believed that the largest problem facing Memphis was out-of-control crime. It is not. It is being mired in a community led by mediocre leaders who are content with watching Memphis slip further and further into the bottom ranks of American cities.

These leaders arrogantly ignore the advice of business leaders, community leaders and citizens of Memphis who reap the consequences of their decisions.

Do we really want the least accomplished employees working in our libraries, our utilities, and now our police department? Ask the seven City Council members who opposed this resolution. Apparently, they do.

Susan Daniel


No excuse for recruiting problems

Congratulations to the Memphis City Council for rejecting the resolution for broadening residency requirements for MPD recruiting.

Surely, no one can doubt that, given recent reductions in force and/or closings of major employers within our city, there are more than enough qualified taxpayers who reside within the city to fill vacancies or new jobs as they occur.

Why look outside the city of Memphis taxpayer base for applicants? Does not the average person exercise more care with the area in which they live than the neighboring areas?

Billie Heimert


Will city get past its racial divide?

After reading that the City Council voted along racial lines not to hire police recruits who live outside of Shelby County, I looked at the photo that accompanied the article. Other than Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, I saw only white faces in the crowd.

The overwhelming support for hiring outside city limits was justified by the high crime rate. Does this mean that black citizens of Memphis and black City Council members are content with the high crime?

Jay VanWinkle

Booneville, Miss.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Common said...

Nearly half of Mexican cops fail police tests
Published: 11/27/08, 10:05 PM EDT
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Almost half of Mexican police officers examined this year have failed background and security tests, a figure that rises to nearly 9 of 10 cops in the border state of Baja California, the government reported Thursday.

The number of officers scoring a "not recommendable" rating on the tests averaged 49 percent nationwide, well above the 42 percent who got a "recommendable" rating.

The tests - which involved lie detectors, drug tests, pyscohological profiling and tests of personal wealth, among other measures - were intended to root out corrupt, incompetent and unfit officers. The report did not break down how many officers failed each category.

In Baja California, home to the border city of Tijuana, some 89 percent of police tested failed, and only 4 percent were judged "recommendable." Officers there have been periodically disarmed, detained and investigated by federal investigators and army troops on suspicion of aiding drug traffickers.

The report comes amid a continuing federal investigation that in recent weeks has revealed the worst corruption scandal in Mexican law enforcement in a decade, with more than a dozen high-ranking officials - including the country's top anti-drug prosecutor - detained on suspicion of passing security information to drug cartels.

The test have been administered to more than 56,000 state and municipal policemen so far this year, President Calderon told Congress on Thursday.

Of those, about 27,700 were deemed unfit for police work, and 23,380 were approved.

As many as two-thirds of police failed security tests in a half dozen states. It was unclear whether they would be subject to further investigation, retraining or dismissal.

Mexico has about 375,000 police officers at all levels.

Police vetting has been problematic in Mexico. Labor laws sometimes make it hard to fire officers and it can be difficult to find qualified candidates in some areas.

9:42 PM  
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