MEMPHIS (AP) — Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton says police officers need new technology put in their cars that could help stop crashes from happening.
Wharton made the comments last week, two days after a city officer was involved in a crash that killed two people.
The Commercial Appeal reports that Wharton described the technology as a GPS-based device that would provide a variety of information to police officials including the location of a squad car, its route, its speed and what equipment was in use.
Wharton said he wasn’t sure how much it would cost to implement the technology, but he plans to ask the City Council to find the money for it.
“Whatever the cost is, I don’t think it’s too much, particularly if it’s going to (help) officer safety,” Wharton said.
The crash on Aug. 26 killed Delores Epps, 54, and Makayla Ross, 13, who were in town for a birthday party.
Police say the officer, 23-year-old Alex Beard, was responding to a call requesting backup for another officer at the scene of what police termed a “mental consumer.”
Witnesses told police the officer was speeding and had not activated his lights or sirens. Wharton, who has asked the Tennessee Highway Patrol to conduct an independent investigation of the crash, called that issue the “crux of the investigation.”
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said officers are usually required to have their lights and sirens on when responding to an emergency, but there are some exceptions.
“I think we have a sound policy in place. We just have to take some action to make sure that it is followed,” Armstrong said.
The crash has led to several comments about police cars speeding without lights or sirens going, but Wharton said such complaints are common.
“Yes, we are aware that our community is full of statements (like), ‘I saw officers zoom by me, going 80 miles an hour and he stopped at the grocery store,’” he said. “I’m prepared to go to the council and clean this up and stop it with technology.”