Weekly Update: Fourth of July Weekend

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Six weeks ago, our positivity rate for Coronavirus testing was usually below seven percent, and our patients in the hospital averaged between 100-120 per day. Now, our positivity rate for testing has been over ten percent each day for the last two weeks, and our hospitalizations are at least twice as high as six weeks ago. We are at a critical time and must slow the rate of increase. Click here to see those data points.

During World War II, Americans sacrificed for the common good to defeat a common enemy. Millions of men and women served in the military. Millions more sacrificed on the home front to aid in the effort.

They rationed food and goods. They changed their work to manufacture items for the military and grew different crops that were needed. They participated in scrap metal drives, and changed their overall way of life to assist in the effort to save our democracy.

As President Roosevelt said, “There is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States—every man, woman and child—is in action, and will be privileged to remain in action throughout this war. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives and in our daily tasks”.

As you know, we are at war with a pandemic—the COVID-19 virus. And, like the greatest generation, we can fight this common enemy with sacrifice in our daily lives and our daily tasks.

We must:

- Stay home if you’re sick
- Wash or sanitize your hands
- Stay at least six feet apart from each other
- Wear masks or facial coverings—it’s the law now

I know this is difficult. I know going into Independence Day weekend you want to spend time with your family and friends. And, you can, but in a much different way than any other year of your life. We must practice these social distancing rules.

The greatest generation sacrificed for almost four years to defeat the Axis Powers. Our fight is much shorter, and our sacrifices are much less onerous. So, I know we can do this.

Together, we can stay apart and slow this virus by making small sacrifices for the common good.

Reimagining Policing: As I told you last week, we are working every day to improve our Memphis Police Department and its relationship with the public. I also said that we would come up with a process by which more citizens can express their opinions and make proposals.

The foundation for every relationship is based on trust and that trust is built on honesty and transparency. In an effort to continue building that trust with the public, we announced earlier in this week the creation a new website for the department—https://reimagine.memphistn.gov/.

On this new site, citizens can file a complaint or commend an officer; view policies, procedures, and demographics of the Memphis Police Department; and, our commitment to the Six Pillars of 21st century policing as recommended by members of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

This new site will provide proper guidance and understanding to any individual or group interested in truly learning what our officers do and don’t do. And, importantly, it will also allow everyone to submit questions, suggestions, and general feedback about how we can be better.

Last week, we announced significant progress from our meetings with DeVante Hill, Frank Gotti and their group. Based on those meetings, discussions with City Council, and work already completed by the Memphis Police Department, my administration agreed to:

  1. Match the guidelines in “8 Can’t Wait”
  2. Ban no-knock warrants
  3. Strengthen CLERB
  4. Work with the Memphis Police Association to improve the language in the MOU to enhance accountability and clearly set forth that violation of excessive force is a fireable offense
  5. Work together to improve our implicit bias training.

As I said last week, Black Lives Matter Memphis made dozens of recommendations, and these are being studied by our team.

With respect to other groups who have submitted recommendations like, MICAH, a group of Memphis nonprofits, and the Democratic Socialists of America Memphis Chapter—we agree with and have implemented most of their suggestions, such as those listed above. The only items concerning policing on which we disagree are:

  1. Defunding the Memphis Police Department
  2. Prohibiting the use of chokeholds even if the life of the officer is in danger
  3. Prohibiting firing a gun into a vehicle even if the life of the officer or a citizen is in danger
  4. Prohibiting the use of tear gas or rubber bullets under any circumstances
  5. Placing a hold on any and all I.C.E. operations in Memphis (it is beyond the authority of a city to “place a hold” on federal operations).

I would also like to take a second to reiterate a point that far too often here locally and on the national level is either overlooked or just simply not reported.

While there are definitely bad officers out there, the overwhelming majority of our officers here in Memphis, and I’ll venture to say nationwide, are honest, decent, and hard-working men and women who love their jobs and the communities they serve.

They put on the uniform every day, and they protect and serve all of us with honor, dignity and respect.

From one very grateful citizen, I want to say thank you.

As I’ve said before, we will continue to work every day to do better—to be better for every Memphian.


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