Local law enforcement impacted by Tyre Nichols Case in Memphis

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 10:36 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As Tyre Nichols was laid to rest Wednesday in Memphis, local law enforcement in the Jackson Metro are mourning the loss of life and reflecting on how they protect and serve the public.

“It’s this kind of incident is tragic, and it makes you sick to your stomach,” Clinton Police Chief Ford Hayman said.

The beating and death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols has many people across the country asking - can we trust law enforcement?

Ridgeland Police Chief Brian Myers understands why.

“It’s difficult to heal that black eye that law enforcement gets and every time one of these bad seeds out there does something wrong, everybody looks at everybody who stands behind a badge,” Chief Myers said.

So what should have happened during Nichols’ traffic stop?

“You have to carry yourself in a very professional manner. When you walk up to a car, you’re making eye contact, and you immediately tell them who you are, and why you stopped them. It should go well from there, as long as your demeanor is good,” Chief Myers explained.

But body camera video shows the five Memphis police officers doing the opposite. After Nichols is pulled from a vehicle, that’s when things become violent, sending Nichols to the hospital where passed away 3 days later.

While police brutality cases not only impact the public, Clinton Police Chief Ford Hayman said it also impacts officers who aren’t involved.

“That is getting way beyond the scope of our duty for that type of brutality to happen. That’s not why we’re here and they have to go out there and encounter people and they have to keep their emotions in check and keep their conduct beyond reproach,” Chief Hayman said.

“It’s difficult for the guy who’s in the white car with the blue light on top to deal with this. It is. But, in this line of work, you’ve got to be thick-skinned and you’ve got to get out there and do your job,” Chief Myers said.

While it’s not required in the state, Chief Myers and Chief Hayman require all officer-applicants to complete a psychological evaluation before ever being handed a badge and gun.

Both agree it’s something that has helped their departments avoid situations like this in the past.

“If you weren’t looking at the at the psychological side of things, then you’re gonna, you’re gonna definitely miss that in some people, and you’re gonna end up putting someone on your force who’s dangerous,” Chief Myers said.

While the Chiefs aren’t sure why the Memphis officers reacted the way they did, further measures could be put in place that saves a citizen’s life.

“You’re seeing it all over the metro area all over the state all over the nation, hiring quality police officers is incredibly challenging,” Chief Hayman explained. “We can go out there and hire... and get the full staff tomorrow. But they’re not quality police officers. We’re not going to lower our standards or the bar in order to meet a number. Even in these troubling times, that is so difficult. If we can at least adhere to the standard or even ask the standard to be raised a little bit, I think in the long run, we’re better off.”

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