MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Lowered hiring standards at the Memphis Police Department, as well as Chief Cerelyn Davis’ checkered background are getting discussed in the aftermath of five officers getting fired and subsequently charged with murder in the death of Tyre Nichols.
Law enforcement agencies that have lowered their hiring standards — to fill quotas in order to match the demographics of their respective jurisdictions — has long been a problem within the institution. While the goal is admirable, the results can be devastating. “Lowering the standards simply lowers the culture,” is a phrase that is often repeated at police leadership courses, despite arguments to the contrary.
It is not unusual to see candidates that are hired in order to mirror the community either fail during the training process, or compromise the quality of work that is expected if they happen to squeak by. Oftentimes those who are carried through the hiring and training formats simply become an albatross to others when they are expected to perform at an acceptable level.
Let’s be clear, this is not about race, it’s about competence, and incompetence comes in all colors, but is magnified when it’s ignored in pre-hired candidates who then become problem officers, according to experts at Law Officer.
“Give me five quality officers versus 10 ‘warm bodies’ in uniform and we’ll run circles around them,” said Jim McNeff, retired police lieutenant and managing editor at Law Officer. “Incompetent officers create problems that take twice the time to clean up, not to mention the legal and civil liabilities they create.”
The city of Memphis is currently under the microscope for their hiring practices now that five police officers have been charged with the murder of Nichols.
Betsy Brantner Smith, a retired police sergeant and trainer as well as spokesperson for the National Police Association, said the videos showed a disregard of proper training.
“Nobody teaches baton strikes above the shoulders, nobody teaches kicks to the head, nobody teaches the denial of medical aid,” she noted. “These men were street fighting, they were not acting as police officers.”
She said the video was “not indicative of the men and women of American law enforcement” and urged Memphis police to review their hiring and training practices.
Karan Parmar, identified as a chief of police in the greater Enid area, and veteran Army officer, according to his LinkedIn profile, authored a condemnation of Memphis police hiring practices based upon information he received.
According to a source within the Memphis PD, the 5 charged officers weren’t hired through the usual structured PD hiring process. City leaders felt the existing process was too strict and kept certain people from getting jobs at the department. City leaders began their own hiring process and then pushed new hires into the agency, bypassing the testing procedures in place at the department. You can read between the lines what that all means.
All 5 of the charged officers were hired by the City, and didn’t go through the rigorous PD testing process.
This is what quota hiring looks like. Lawsuits and dead innocents. The city should pay the lawsuits instead of the Police department. This Murder wasn’t created by old school policing or by “white supremacy”. This murder was directly facilitated by liberal policy.
On the topic of lowering standards, well-known attorney Marina Medvin tweeted, “You get what you ask for.”
You get what you ask for. pic.twitter.com/j6GlyvSzsN
— Marina Medvin 🇺🇸 (@MarinaMedvin) January 29, 2023
All five former Memphis police officers who were arrested were part of a special, 40-member SCORPION (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) unit established just 15 months ago by Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. Suddenly, there is an avalanche of criticism about the unit that has been reported by Law Officer and the Los Angeles Times.
Following the murder indictments, Davis has shuttered the specialized unit, Law Officer reported.
The New York Post reported two of the fired/charged officers, Tadarrius Bean and Demetrius Haley joined the Memphis Police Department during the summer of 2020 as riots related to the death of George Floyd rocked the nation.
Bean and Haley’s hiring by the department in August 2020 came two years after the department significantly lowered the education required to join the force, the Daily Wire reported.
The lowered standards meant that recruits no longer needed an associate’s degree or 54 college credit hours to join, the report said, and could instead get by with just work experience.
College units are not the end-all benchmark of what makes a good cop, but experts who spoke to the Post said the lowered requirements meant “less desirable” candidates were being brought on by the department.
The other three officers charged in the case, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith were hired in 2017 and 2018. It was unclear if they gained employment with the department after the standards were lowered.
Moreover, 24-year-old Bean was the president of the Omega Psi Phi’s Eta Zeta chapter at the University of Mississippi, according to his LinkedIn page. The college fraternity is associated with several recent scandals at its chapters, the New York Post reported.
In 2019, Omega’s chapter at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., was suspended over a slew of disturbing incidents involving pledges, or people looking to join the group, including at least one hospitalization, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Potential newcomers were beaten, and some were forced to chug hot sauce or pour it down their pants to simulate an STD.
In 2018, a 45-year-old man looking to join an Omega Psi Phi chapter in Brooklyn had his buttocks and testicles paddled more than 150 times as part of a twisted “welcoming ritual,” resulting in two of the fraternity’s members being charged with assault and hazing.
Interestingly enough, even Chief Davis’ hiring is a topic of discussion as it relates to “lowered standards.” She became the first female police chief in Memphis’ history in 2021, even though she was previously fired from the Atlanta Police Department in 2008 due to her alleged involvement in a sex crimes investigation into the husband of an Atlanta police sergeant, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Two detectives accused Davis of telling them not to investigate Terrill Marion Crane, who was married to Sgt. Tonya Crane, after they obtained photos of him with underage girls.
Crane was later indicted by a federal grand jury for child pornography after the FBI took the case, according to the Daily Mail. He pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography in 2009, the news outlet reported.
The indictment was issued after Atlanta police took no action in the case and a subsequent investigation by the city pointed to Davis as the reason.
Crane’s wife, who was a sergeant working with Davis, also admitted to “finding and burning” some of the child porn photographs her husband had taken of the victims.
Davis was demoted from major to lieutenant before being fired from the department, the New York Post reported.
The FBI blasted Atlanta’s police force as “unforgiveable” at the time for allowing the child abuse — which involved at least 11 girls, some as young as middle school age — to go “unchecked,” according to the Daily Mail.
Attorney David E. Nahmias said, “This case goes back a number of years, which makes the list of victims longer and the facts of the case even more disturbing. This defendant sexually exploited numerous young girls and that unforgivable criminal conduct went unchecked for years even after being brought to the attention of the Atlanta Police Department.”
Davis challenged her termination before the city’s Civil Service Board. She succeeded and was reinstated before retiring from the department in 2016.
Following her time in Atlanta, Davis became police chief in Durham, North Carolina — and had called for sweeping police reform, despite her previous conduct in Georgia.