Tami Sawyer, in her Shelby County Commission role, moved two motions on December 3rd, 2018, to secure a Lenco Bearcat armored truck for the Shelby County sheriff’s department.
We received the following documents from the County via Open Records request.
Motion moved by Tami Sawyer (PDF) to accept $196,038 from FEMA towards the purchase of the armored vehicle.
Motion moved by Tami Sawyer (PDF) to spend $261,384 on the LENCO. This includes the FEMA grant above and an additional $65,346 in taxpayer funds.
County Mayor Lee Harris signed off (PDF) on this purchase on December 10th.
MPD Armored Vehicles.
The County has no armored vehicles. MPD has two, a Bear, also made by LENCO, owned by the TACT unit and a military surplus MRAP. We were able to find only one incident where the MRAP was used for a forcible entry. The TACT team prefers to use a dark green walk-thru van for forcible entries.
All other deployments of MPD armored vehicles have been for the intimidation of protesters, twice at Gracelend in Summer of 2016, at least once in 2017 against #TakEmDown protesters, and three times at Overton Park in April and May of 2016.
Ferguson, BLM and the use of armored vehicles.
The events of 2014 in Ferguson, following the police killing of Michael Brown, featured police armored vehicles and advanced weapons. This stirred reaction, from groups including Black Lives Matter and ACLU, about the abuse of armored vehicles.
As Wikipedia relates: “In a 2013 piece in the newsletter of the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), COPS Senior Policy Analyst Karl Bickel warned that police militarization could seriously impair community-oriented policing. Bickel wrote that accelerating militarization was likely to alienate police relationship with the community, and pointed to a variety of factors that contribute to militarization…”.
In other words, even the police themselves claim that the militarization of police is the exact opposite to community policing. And a rejection of police militarization is almost universal among supporters of ACLU and BLM, who form a large part of Tami Sawyer’s #TakeEmDown901 base.
In Tami Sawyer’s platform, “Tami’s Criminal Justice Priorities:
Hire a trauma-informed Memphis Police Director, with the people of Memphis’s input, who a) has a track-record of implementing community policing tactics,…”.
This position is what is expected from someone who led an August 2017 protest at Health Sciences Park in which police attacked a peaceful protest and arrested several of her supporters. Tami was also one of the first activists “friended” by “Bob Smith” aka Sgt. Tim Reynolds as early as the summer of 2015. This was documented in the 2018 “Kendrick” case which the ACLU won against the City. Tami Sawyer should know about militarized policing from her direct experience.
Tami’s vote to increase the militarization of the Sheriff’s Department to the next level is the exact opposite of what she said about policing over the years. Militarization of SCSD is also the exact, polar opposite of her Mayoral community policing platform.
Tami Sawyer transitioned from police prey to pro-police predator in the space of three months from taking office on the County Commission. The cognitive dissonance is acute.
Her support of SCSD militarization is a slap in the face to her core supporters.
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