Memphis Police Department

Coordinates: 35°08′59″N 90°03′02″W / 35.1496°N 90.0505°W / 35.1496; -90.0505
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Memphis Police Department
Agency overview
Employees1,950 (2022)
Annual budget$273 million (2020)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionMemphis, Tennessee, United States
Jurisdiction of the Memphis Police Department
Population650,632 (2018)
Legal jurisdictionMemphis, Tennessee
Governing bodyMemphis City Council
Constituting instrument
  • Yes
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters170 N. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
Officers2,142 (Dec 2014)
Agency executives
  • Administrative Services
  • Investigative Services
  • Special Operations
  • Uniform Patrol
  • Tillman Station (Central Precinct)
  • North Main Station (Downtown Precinct)
  • Appling Farms Station (Northeast Precinct)
  • Crump Station (West Precinct)
  • Mt. Moriah Station (East Precinct)
  • Austin Peay Station (North Precinct/Austin Peay Hwy)
  • Raines Station (South Precinct)
  • Airways Station (Southeast Precinct)
  • Ridgeway Station
Official website Edit this at Wikidata

The Memphis Police Department is a law enforcement agency in Tennessee in the United States.


The Memphis Police Department (MPD) provides police services to the people of the city of Memphis in a 304-square-mile area with 2,081 officers. There are nine precincts in the Memphis area.[2][3] The chief of police is appointed by the mayor and ratified by the city council.[4]

The administrative services department provides services that enable the other programs to effectively respond to service calls. It provides security services; warrant, subpoena, and property processing; radio and telephone communications; inspection of police services; and management of information and human resources. Additional functions include the reporting and recording of crimes and incidents and personnel development.

The investigative services department includes the domestic violence bureau, the homicide, the missing person's bureau, the sex crimes/juvenile abuse bureau, the general investigative bureau, the felony response bureau, and support units.

2007 Memphis Dodge Charger

Uniform patrol is divided into the geographic areas of Tillman Station (Central Precinct), North Main Station (Downtown Precinct), Appling Farms Station (Northeast Precinct), Crump Station (West Precinct), Mt. Moriah Station (East Precinct), Old Allen Station (North Precinct), Raines Station (South Precinct), Airways Station (Southeast Precinct), Ridgeway Station, and Union Station (Traffic Division).

Staff representation by race is 52 percent African American/Black, 47 percent White, and one percent Hispanic. 84 percent of staff are male, and 16 percent are female.[5]

Officers are issued the SIG Sauer P229R DAK .40 S&W as the sidearm of choice.

Rank structure and insignia[edit]

The MPD uses these ranks:

Title Insignia
Chief of Police
Assistant Chief of Police
Deputy Chief
Lieutenant Colonel
PIIP/PII/Detective No Rank Insignia

The assistant chief insignia is four stars arranged in a diamond pattern.


The Memphis Police Department was founded in 1827.[6] In 1878, the 55-man police department was devastated by the yellow fever epidemic with all 55 officers stricken, and 10 officers dying.[6] By 1927, the city's murder rate was 69.3 per 100,000 population, the highest in the country. In comparison, Chicago, then controlled by Al Capone, had a murder rate of only 13.3 per 100,000.[7] Memphis police officers Thomas Waterson and Sergeant William Raney captured George "Machine Gun" Kelly in 1933. The first African American officers were hired in 1948, twenty years before the 1968 Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis which sparked riots and curfews across the city. In 1973, the department witnessed the formation of two police unions—the Afro-American Police Association and the Memphis Police Association, a bargaining unit representing patrolmen and sergeants, and in 1978 the department went on an eight-day strike in a labor dispute with city leaders.

In 1979, the city admitted that written tests used in the police hiring and promotion process had a disparate impact on blacks.[8][9] In 2002, a test used in the promotion process resulted in 31 percent of black candidates promoted, and 73 percent of whites.[8] In 2006, a court ruled the 2002 test violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and "28 plaintiffs with passing exam scores and sufficient work experience were promoted"; a decision reversed in 2014 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.[8]

James Ivy became the city's first African-American police director in 1988. 1992 saw Eddie B. Adair named the first African American chief of police

In 1992, Sergeant Jim Nichols, assigned to MPD Research & Development, formed a non-profit organization that raised money to allow MPD to become one of the first law enforcement agencies in Tennessee to utilize computers in a networks systems, where each detective, as well as the executive administration, had a computer on their desk to assist in writing up reports, running background checks, send and receive an email as well as other administrative needs relating to law enforcement.

In June 2013, Officer Brandon Berry was charged with forcing men to have sex with him in exchange for not arresting them on outstanding warrants.[10] The next month officer Jason Webb was fired when he was charged with soliciting sex from an underage prostitute.[11] In August 2013, Officer Vance Stacks was convicted of drunk driving and weapons charges related to a traffic accident in 2011.[12] In September 2013, Officer Alex Beard plead guilty to reduced charges as a result of reckless behavior. In August 2012, while driving his official vehicle at more than ninety miles an hour without lights or a siren, he struck another car, killing a woman and her daughter. Beard was sentenced to six months in jail and six years on probation.[13] In December 2013, Officer Matthew Ashmore was arrested after child pornography was found on his telephone.[14]

In July 2014, hundreds of policemen called in sick apparently to protest the city reducing pay by 4.6 percent while giving millions of dollars to private entities. On July 5, 181 officers called in sick. The following Monday, 550 officers did not come to work.[15] In late 2014, press reports indicated that the department had 11,000 untested rape kits on hand.[16]

The new MPD headquarters at 170 North Main Street, was opened in 2017.

In 2018 due to a shortage of police officer staff and candidates, the requirement that newly-hired officers have a college degree was removed; officers were instead given four years to obtain a college degree after being hired.[17] The Memphis Police Association opposed the change, saying "citizens deserve quality officers", and described the change as "lowering the standards".[17] The same year, MPD was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee for violating a 1978 decree by surveilling on citizens for political purposes. White MPD Sergeant Timothy Reynolds admitted in the trial that he pretended to be a black man named "Bob Smith" on Facebook to spy on activists participating in the Black Lives Matter movement, one of them being journalist and founder of MLK50 Wendi C. Thomas. Judge Jon Phipps McCalla ruled that MPD was guilty of violating the decree.[18][19]

In late 2020, retired African- American MPD Homicide Investigator Eric Kelly was charged with having a sexual relationship with a murder suspect.[20]

In October 2021, MPD launched the SCORPION (street crimes operation to restore peace in our neighborhoods) specialized unit which targeted high-impact crimes and gang-related offenses.[21] The unit had three teams totaling about 30 officers.[22][23] The same year, the department appointed the first female and first African American Chief of Police, Cerelyn J. Davis. Also in 2021, Mayor Strickland's Advisory Council Reimagining Police report was released with recommendations.[24] In 2023, Following the killing of Tyre Nichols, a young Black man, the SCORPION unit was disbanded,[21] by Police Chief Davis who also terminated the employment of five associated officers.[22][23]

On March 8, 2023, the United States Department of Justice announced that it would investigate the Memphis PD following the killing of Tyre Nichols.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Carl; Baranauckas, Carla (June 26, 2020). "Here's how much money goes to police departments in largest cities across the U.S." USA Today. Archived from the original on July 14, 2020.
  2. ^ "City of Memphis Police Department" Archived 2013-04-06 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 2020-08-11 at the Wayback Machine " MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT STAFFING: WHERE DO WE STAND?"]. Retrieved September 4, 2020
  4. ^ Taylor, Eryn. "City of Memphis releases names of police director candidates" Archived 2016-07-17 at the Wayback Machine. July 15, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  5. ^ "Memphis Police Department At a Glance". 2011-02-11. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  6. ^ a b "Memphis Police Department History". Archived from the original on 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  7. ^ One Summer; America 1927, by Bill Bryson, Doubleday 2013, Kindle Location 6257
  8. ^ a b c Liebelson, Dana (February 19, 2015). "Dozens of African-American Cops In Tennessee Face Demotions Over Discrimination Lawsuit". Huffpost. Archived from the original on February 4, 2023. Retrieved February 4, 2023.
  9. ^ Florence Billingsley, et al. vs. City of Memphis; Marilyn Johnson, et al. vs. City of Memphis, U.S. (W. D. Tenn. 2006).
  10. ^ Former officer charged with forcing fugitives to perform sexual acts, by Jason Miles, 21 June 2013, WMC-TV
  11. ^ Police Officer Charged With Soliciting A Minor Has Long List Of Troubles, by April Thompson, 15 July 2013,
  12. ^ Former Memphis police officer convicted on DUI, gun charges, by Lawrence Buser, The Commercial Appeal, 12 August 2013
  13. ^ Family devastated by former MPD officer's plea deal, by Nick Kenney, 11 September 2013, WMC-TV
  14. ^ Memphis officer held over child porn on phone, police say, by ArkansasOnline, 27 December 2013
  15. ^ 308 Tennessee police officers call in sick in apparent protest, by the Associated Press, 7 July 2014
  16. ^ New York Initiative to help Other Cities Clear Rape-Kit Backlogs; by Tatinana Scholossberg, 14 November 2014, The New York Times
  17. ^ a b Connolly, Daniel (June 26, 2018). "Memphis Police Department loosens college requirement for recruits". Commercial Appeal. Archived from the original on February 8, 2023. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  18. ^ Watts, Micaela A. "Federal court monitor says MPD is complying with sanctions on surveillance tactics". The Commercial Appeal. Archived from the original on 2020-07-12. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
  19. ^ Thomas, Wendi C.; Journalism, MLK50: Justice Through. "The Police Have Been Spying on Black Reporters and Activists for Years. I Know Because I'm One of Them". ProPublica. Archived from the original on 2020-08-01. Retrieved 2020-07-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ "Embattled former Memphis police homicide investigator Eric Kelly faces criminal charges" Archived 2020-09-03 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Tyre Nichols: Police unit is disbanded after death". BBC News. 2023-01-28. Archived from the original on 2023-01-28. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  22. ^ a b Sainz, Adrian (2023-01-28). "Memphis police disband unit that beat Tyre Nichols". AP NEWS. Archived from the original on 2023-01-28. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  23. ^ a b Tanyos, Faris (2023-01-28). "Memphis police shut down SCORPION unit whose officers are charged in death of Tyre Nichols". CBS News. Archived from the original on 2023-01-29. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  24. ^ "Mayor Strickland's Advisory Council Reimagining Police" (PDF). 2021-06-10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-01-23. Retrieved 2023-01-27.
  25. ^ Mallin, Alexander; Alfonseca, Kiara (2023-03-08). "Justice Department to review Memphis Police Department following Tyre Nichols' death". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2023-04-08.

External links[edit]

35°08′59″N 90°03′02″W / 35.1496°N 90.0505°W / 35.1496; -90.0505