VOL. 131 | NO. 23 | Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Council Probes Police Body Camera Delay
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Council members talk Tuesday, Feb. 2, about when police body cameras might be ready for action.
And there will probably be questions at the 11 a.m. executive session about whether a limited test use of the cameras recorded any of last week’s fatal police shooting of Johnathan Bratcher in South Memphis.
Several news organizations reported hearing a police dispatcher tell police cars responding to the aftermath of the shooting to turn off any body cameras.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland indefinitely postponed the rollout of the cameras last month. He cited a lack of planning and procedures for the storage of the video from the cameras as well as a lack of planning for how to handle public records requests for the video and its use as evidence in court cases.
“I understand the delay,” said council member Worth Morgan. “But it is disappointing. Some organization had dropped the ball here.”
Morgan, who chairs the council’s public safety committee, said he is interested in getting a firm start date for the rollout of the cameras as soon as possible.
The council also will discuss the bill in the Tennessee Legislature that would abolish the state-run Achievement School District.
Council members at a 9 a.m. committee session discuss a resolution that would support the bill by state Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis.
That is followed by a 9:30 a.m. committee session that provides council members with an update on the 911 call center.
The council hasn’t had a lot of discussion recently about the call center or the 911 phone system. But Strickland listed a better 911 system among his priorities when he took office in January.
The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow @tdnpols, twitter.com/tdnpols, for coverage of the meeting as well as updates from committee sessions earlier in the day.
On the council’s agenda is a special use permit for a used car lot on the southeast corner of Chelsea Avenue and Tunica Street.
The city-county Office of Planning and Development is recommending rejection of the application by Marvin Coleman, citing another used car lot on the same block of Chelsea.
“Memphis currently has a proliferation of used automobile sales establishments,” the OPD staff report reads. “Staff finds the project will have an undue adverse effect upon adjacent property and the character of the neighborhood.”
The OPD staff also said specific plans for the car lot, including landscaping, had not been provided by the developer.