Memphis Council Candidate Questionnaires: District 2 Answers

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1. If elected or re-elected to the city council, will you propose programs and/or initiatives to limit the number of arrests for minor offenses in the city?

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

Yes

So-called “broken windows” policing (the tactic of heavily enforcing minor infractions) has lead to the criminalization of an entire group of people whose only real crime was poverty. Not only that, but because of structural racism in the criminal justice system that impact is felt disproportionately by brown and black people. I will make it a priority to limit both the number of arrests for minor offenses and the level of financial burden (such as fines, court costs, etc.) these offenses create.

WHITE:

Yes

Laws must be upheld to maintain peace and justice. Minor offenses like parking tickets, littering and vandalism can take officers off the streets working these types of cases rather than protecting citizens.

2. If elected or re-elected to the city council, will you support a pre-booking diversion program for drug-related offenses and for those suffering from mental health issues?

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

Yes

Being addicted to a drug is not a crime. It is a health issue.

Having a mental health crisis is not a crime. It is a health issue.

Mental health and drug addiction are not criminal issues and should not be treated as such, and the fact that they are leads to disastrous outcomes for both those affected and society at large.

WHITE:

Yes

I support fair and equitable laws and procedures to prevent issues, rather than only reactive responses. Jails are not equipped with personnel with the proper training to help those suffering from addiction and mental health issues.

3. If elected or re-elected to the city council, will you support a policy to require transparency and democratic accountability before city agencies acquire new surveillance tools?

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

Yes

WHITE:

Yes

4. If elected or re-elected to the city council will you work to make stop and arrest data, including race and ethnicity data, available to the public quarterly?

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

Yes

WHITE:

Yes

5. If elected or re-elected to the city council what will you do to ensure a timely, transparent and independent investigation whenever an officer uses deadly force?

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

The current Memphis policy of a mandatory TBI investigation into any use of deadly force is a good start, but at the end of the day no one specific policy will be enough to ensure public trust in law enforcement. We must create a culture of accountability and transparency within law enforcement organizations so that independent investigation is not seen as a burden (or worse yet as anti-LEO hostility) but as way of ensuring that both law enforcement officers and the general public are protected.

WHITE:

I will work with CLERB to establish common, shared goals of a successful and thorough investigation. I would encourage identifying and closing any gaps. Also, I would support including necessary stakeholders in the communication channels.

6. Name 3 steps you would take as a council member to make the Community Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) more effective.

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

1.) CLERB can and must have subpoena power. Without it, CLERB is essentially unable to compel testimony and therefore unable to perform its stated mission. (The current position that the City Council must issue subpoenas on CLERB’s behalf has proven to be an effective denial of subpoena power.)
2.) Numerous CLERB meetings have been cancelled due to a lack of quorum. Those appointed to CLERB can and must be willing to fulfill the mission of CLERB or they must be replaced. (The City Council member who acts as CLERB’s liaison must also be willing to fulfill CLERB’s mission)
3.) CLERB must have the statutory power to enforce its findings, up to and including referring criminal charges to a prosecutor. An independent investigative body is useless if it does not have the power to act.

WHITE:

First, I would work with CLERB to support defining success metrics and upholding high standards. I would also recommend resolving issues in an open, fair process. Finally, I would encourage benchmarking successful strategies and support and, creating a roadmap for iterative review and improvements for the Board.

7. Would you support policies, programs or initiatives to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline?

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

Yes

Since the first widely publicized school mass shootings in the late 1990’s, school resource officers (SROs) have been placed in many American schools. The presence of these law enforcement officers in schools has lead to an increasing use of the criminal justice system to deal with student behavioral issues, to the point where a quick search can turn up dozens of viral videos of students being arrested (in many cases violently) for crimes such as “talking back to the teacher” and “skipping class”.

This escalation from normal disciplinary procedures affect brown and black kids disproportionately (as does the rest of the criminal justice system) and has a particularly devastating effect on students with disabilities. I’m on the autism spectrum, and one of the most heartwrenching things I have ever seen was a video of a 7 year old boy (!) being arrested for the “crime” of being autistic in class.

Who does it serve to make children into criminals? How many parallels are there between what happens to the kids in juvenile detention and the kids who are being abused at the border? What sane society does this? These are questions that I have.

WHITE:

Yes

As a father and Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor, I realize the importance of having positive role models at an early age. As the husband of an educator, I am passionate about changing the lives of young people. Keeping them away from negative influences, holding them to high standards and doing whatever it takes to keep them from being on the wrong side of law enforcement.

8. What does criminal justice reform mean to you?

COLVETT: DID NOT RESPOND

EMERY:

“While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

– Eugene V. Debs

WHITE:

Everything must be on the table for real reform. Reform must be data-driven and insightful to measure success. It is essential to target the problems that have a clear path to resolution first and build a roadmap for future achievements. Reform is a team effort between government, the justice system, businesses, and the community. Education, communication, integrity, decency, and respect are the core cultural aspects of reform. I believe Memphis can be a beacon of change in criminal justice reform by having commonly shared goals and a path to success.

2019-09-12T16:45:11-05:00 September 10th, 2019|Categories: General News|Tags: |