Updates from the Shelby County Commission

Right on the Bluff: October 2023

Sheriff ordinances

Last month I mentioned a trio of ordinances seeking to restrict the Shelby County Sheriff’s office. Two of the three have now passed, though in amended form, while the third fell just one vote short and may get another shot at securing a majority.

The two ordinances that passed on Monday request data from the Sheriff. One seeks reporting on specialized units and task forces, while the other calls for information on traffic stops, arrests, use of force, and citizen complaints. Both of these proposals were approved on party-line votes.

The ordinance that narrowly failed asks the Sheriff to ban low-level traffic stops as well as searches, the use of unmarked vehicles, and surveillance. One commissioner who previously supported this ordinance was absent from the vote. That means it could have the 7 votes needed to pass if it is brought up for reconsideration at the next meeting.

For now, these are simply requests from the Board of Commissioners; the ordinances have no force of law. And Sheriff Floyd Bonner is on record saying, “I’m not willing to abide by that request right now.”

There is a need for better information sharing and accountability in all aspects of our justice system, but this is not the right approach. We should be working with our law enforcement leaders, not against them.

Public safety

Speaking of working with law enforcement leaders, I am thankful for the Board’s support of a resolution I sponsored to fund public safety initiatives in District 3.

Bartlett Police Department Chief Jeff Cox and Bartlett Fire Department Chief Tommy Gately gave a presentation on the proposal in our General Government committee.

The resolution will cover the cost of emergency equipment needed in the event of severe weather episodes and resulting power outages, such as we faced in June.

The resolution funds the purchase of:

  • battery backup systems for traffic controls in the event of a power outage
  • portable traffic signals deployed when regular traffic signals are damaged
  • portable digital signage used to communicate with motorists
  • an emergency alert system (using text, phone and email notifications)
  • a set of battery operated hydraulic extrication tools (spreader, cutter and ram)

I appreciate the commissioners for their support of this resolution.

Legislative update

This month we received the first installment of what will be quarterly reports from the Bail Hearing Courtroom, as requested by a resolution I sponsored and the Board of Commissioners approved earlier this year.

Judge Bill Anderson and Lead judicial Commissioner John Marshall were present for a special called meeting to introduce the reports, which cover all bail and pre-trial release decisions made in General Sessions.

We will be following how many cases are coming through the court, what decisions are being made, and how frequently released individuals are returning with subsequent charges.

I put this question to them: “Is the court a revolving door?

Over time, these reports will give us a more objective answer to that question.

In the media

This month I joined talk radio to discuss the bail reports mentioned above, but several reporters also asked about something a concerned parent brought to my attention and that I later shared on social media.

A very inappropriate event had been scheduled by a rogue employee at the Bartlett Library. She had invited students as young as 13 to come to the library, dressed in pajamas, to eat snacks and read sexually explicit graphic novels.

I have shielded the employee’s name because she is a failed Bartlett school board candidate who made “banned books” her campaign platform. I assume she wanted to generate controversy and draw attention to herself, but I will not give her that satisfaction. But whatever the reason, it was a sick idea.

I am thankful Bartlett Mayor David Parsons, City of Bartlett officials, and leaders at the Memphis Public Library took swift action to cancel the event.

Here is some coverage:

Upcoming public meetings

October 11 – Standing committees, 8:30 a.m.

October 16 – Commission meeting, 3 p.m.

October 25 – Standing committees, 8:30 a.m.

October 30 – Commission meeting, 3 p.m.

Book club

This month I am reading Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

Stay in touch

If you have a question or concern, email me at

You can speak with the Commission office by calling 901-222-1000.

I welcome your feedback on Facebook (@CommissionerMickWright) and X (@mickwright).

Thanks for reading.

Mick Wright
Shelby County Commission – District 3