Memphis Police Must Continue to Live in City, Per City Council


Memphis Police officers will be required to live in the city, whether they like it or not.

Memphis City Council members approved an ordinance this month that removed the question of residency from the November 2020 ballot.

Specifically, the approved ordinance rescinds Referendum Ordinance No. 5744, which might have allowed specified personnel employed within the Divisions of Police and Fire Services to reside 50 miles outside of the City of Memphis.

Memphis City Council Chairwoman Patrice Robinson announced this in an emailed newsletter to her constituents late last week.

“In short, the Council believes that individuals protecting our diverse neighborhoods should also call these places home, fulltime. At present, we support current residency requirements allowing public safety employees to live within Shelby County, and no further,” Robinson said.

“However, the possibility of specified personnel within the Divisions of Police and Fire Services living in Arkansas or Mississippi does not align with our long-term goals, namely working to reform public safety policies to help achieve improved outcomes, and relationships, between public safety employees and our local citizenry, many of whom have lost public trust in our public safety institutions.”

Robinson went on to say that the city will focus on recruiting police rather than retaining them.

As The Tennessee Star reported last November, Memphis has a shortage of police officers.

City Council members, as reported in June, advocate for Campaign Zero, a group that ultimately wants to do away with the police. And council members want their local police officers and sheriff’s deputies to do what Campaign Zero says.

“The Council also realizes that violence against minorities has been an issue in our country for far too long. To that point, we also agree that reform measures are overdue as it relates to racial disparities and the persistence of inequitable treatment within the criminal justice system,” Robinson wrote in an emailed newsletter in June.

“To ensure the City of Memphis is moving toward progress in resolving these issues, the Council also passed a resolution in Executive Session requesting that the Memphis Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office adopt each of the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ principles. These strategies were devised by anti-police brutality group Campaign Zero to reduce and prevent violent encounters between law enforcement officers and members of the general public.”

According to the #8CANTWAIT website, members of the group want, among other things, for law enforcement to ban chokeholds and require a warning and exhaust all alternatives before shooting. They also want police to ban shooting at moving vehicles.

“While we stand by the idea that any political leaders truly invested in protecting black lives should adopt the #8CANTWAIT policies, we also believe the end goal for all of us should be absolute liberation from policing, and encourage visitors to the site to support the range of organizers who are making progress in employing other strategies towards abolition: defunding the police and reinvesting in community,” according to the #8CANTWAIT website.

“If you are from a place where #8CANTWAIT is being considered, demand steps towards defunding and abolition. If you are a legislator who has adopted these policies or are considering it, please know that it will take many strategies to move beyond policing and use this time to learn more and listen to the needs of your community.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Memphis Police Department” by Memphis Police Department.




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3 Thoughts to “Memphis Police Must Continue to Live in City, Per City Council”

  1. William R. Delzell

    Fair enough. These police draw their paychecks from the city. They should also live close to their beat so that they got to know who the law-abiding members are from the law-breakers. Such an arrangement will enable a police officer and his/her family to earn the trust of the law-abiding members of his or her assigned neighborhood, thus giving the police officer vitally needed intelligence and information in nabbing criminals and in getting witnesses to testify. Our police have a lot of work to do in earning and keeping trust in neighborhoods where the law-abiding have as much animosity toward law enforcement as the criminals do.

  2. CollegeGrover

    Memphis can waste more tax dollars in a day than most cities can in a year.

  3. Robert Williams

    I would like to know if all the city council, Mayer, (all Memphis elected or assigned city representatives live within the city limits.
    If they believe “ that individuals protecting our diverse neighborhoods should also call these places home, fulltime.” A fireman can fight a fire a anywhere. A builder can build a home anywhere; and the same for police. However; the elected officials represent the people and should have to live among the people they represent. If they are not; they have no right to tell other they have to