This week the Shelby County Commission considers two ordinances drafted by a police reform group and sponsored by Commissioner Britney Thornton.
The first is an ordinance “to request that the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office disbands and discontinues future use of all Sheriff’s Office specialized units and task forces and ends participation in multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency task forces.”
The second is an ordinance “requesting the Shelby County Sheriff to: 1) ban biased traffic stops and the use of pretextual traffic stops for low-level violations; 2) limit searches, questioning, and the use of unmarked vehicles; and 3) bar surveillance as an alternative to pretextual traffic stops.”
Neither ordinance would appear to have force beyond making a suggestion to the Shelby County Sheriff, who is separately elected.
However, the Memphis area remains in the grip of a crime crisis, and these suggestions present a risk of signaling that law enforcement should back away from strategic efforts to ensure public safety.