April 27, 2006
Police Conduct Subject of Special City Council Meeting
“I am a firm believer that employees are entitled to know exactly where they stand,” said Memphis Mayor Roger Gosney as he opened the special meeting of the Memphis City Council on April 24th.
The four aldermen and the mayor met with the Memphis City police force to discuss the department’s performance and to establish a new set of guidelines as prepared by Mayor Gosney as they publicly established the obligations of the job.
“This isn’t meant to be a public flogging, we simply want to establish what is expected of the city’s police department so we all know where we stand,” stated Alderman Chris Feeney.
Gosney noted that he was aware of past complaints against the department so he wanted to meet with all involved parties to clear the air and to clearly state his position.
“People that know me, never have any doubt where I stand on a position,” he stated. “I speak clearly and let you know exactly where I stand, and that’s what I’m doing today.”
The former highway patrolman read a number of city ordinances that designate authority of the police department and elected officials in the hands of the council and the mayor.
“On my watch, we are going to have efficient city offices, or we are going to replace people until we do, it’s just that simple,” Gosney stated.
He discussed ordinance 115.030 that outlines removal of any elected officials, which requires a majority vote of the council.
He also discussed ordinance 200.160 that establishes the standard of conduct for police officers in the city.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the council, but if people come to me complaining about you doing your job, I’m going to back you up,” stated Alderman Brian Brush. “What I don’t want to hear are complaints that you aren’t doing your job.”
In addition to the roughly 20 standards outlined in the city codes, Gosney revealed a special order that went into effect immediately following the meeting.
The mayor’s special order established a 48-hour deadline for completion of all accident reports by police officers. It also requires all investigation reports to be completed within 72 hours of the incident. The paperwork for the prosecuting attorney or any other court officials is expected to be completed immediately upon request, but the order allows no longer than 24 hours for the orders to be complied with.
“I know a little something about law enforcement and the paperwork that goes along with it,” Gosney stated referring to his years as a state trooper. “There’s no excuse for not getting your reports done in a timely manner.”
Following the discussion of the new guidelines, the council gave approval of the hiring of Jason Moss as a reserve officer. Moss will temporarily fill the position held by officer Chris VanHoozen, who resigned his post last week to take a new job.
Gosney indicated the department would be switching from 10-hour to eight-hour shifts and would not be hiring a new full-time officer at this time until he and the council were satisfied the department was meeting the expected performance requirements.
Officers Moss and Michelle Miller as well as chief Steve Snodgrass indicated they were satisfied with the meeting and the stated requirements on their duties. Officer Mike Steeples was not able to attend the meeting.