Who Protects Us From the Police?

The tragic shooting death of Malcolm Shaw in North Memphis this morning might be Exhibit A in the case for consolidation of city and county government. Letting the poorly-trained, often racist, trigger-happy cowboys from suburbs like Collierville, Bartlett and Millington come into Memphis to serve warrants was asking for trouble, and now we all have it, bigtime. There are some rumors that the officers came to the wrong house, and that the unfortunate man may have been awakened by what he thought were robbers. Grabbing his gun, which would be understandable given the circumstances, got him killed. The issue is not whether Bartlett police had the legal right to come into Memphis and serve the warrant (which apparently they do, at least in certain circumstances), or whether they followed protocols and procedures, which they claim they did. The issue is, rather, why create the needless provocation of bringing police from the white-flight suburban towns into Memphis when MPD officers or Shelby County deputies could have just as easily served the warrant with perhaps a better outcome? And even if deadly force had proved to be unavoidable, at least the incident would not have been so fraught with racial overtones as it will be now. And I’ll close by saying that usually I am annoyed at how everything that happens in Memphis turns into a racial issue, but in this case, I’m convinced that race is involved. It is observable that officers are far quicker to use deadly force when dealing with Black people, and it is useless for them to deny what everyone can see. At the very least, outside officers should be denied the right to serve warrants in Memphis. Mayor Wharton and Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin have the right to request this of all other jurisdictions. In the long run, a metropolitan police force should be established for all of Shelby County, and the small-town forces of Bartlett, Germantown, Collierville, Arlington and Millington should be dissolved. This will insure uniform training, eliminate jurisdictional disputes, reduce taxpayer costs and hopefully prevent a tragedy like the one this morning.

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