Two of the five police officers charged in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols were hired by the Memphis Police Department after it relaxed its hiring requirements, a new report by The New York Post shows.
Tadarrius Bean and Demetrius Haley both joined the MPD in August 2020 after education qualifications to become an officer were dramatically lowered two years prior. The department nixed the required associate’s degree or 54 college credit hours for recruits in 2018 due to a lack of applicants.
“They’re desperate. They want police officers,” retired NYPD detective Mike Alcazar told the Post. “They’re going through it, they check off some boxes, saying, ‘Ok, they’re good enough, get them on.”
In fact, the department was so desperate for recruits it offered $15,000 signing bonuses in both 2021 and 2022, and waivers for applicants who had been convicted of felonies. Even this did not prevent the force from being down 500 officers in January 2022.
Back in September 2020, a month after Bean and Haley were hired, former Deputy Director of MPD Mike Ryall told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that the rise of violent crime in the city could be attributed to the police department’s understaffing and lack of manpower.
Bean and Haley were also hired during the summer of the George Floyd riots, a global protest movement organized by Black Lives Matter in response to the death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. The protests spread to more than 2,000 cities across America, causing more than $1 billion in property damage and killing at least 25 people. Such a movement, whose main mantra was “defund the police,” significantly damaged police morale.
According to a June 2021 survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the rate of retirement at police departments rose 45% in 2020 compared to the previous year, with a 20% increase in resignations. The hiring rate also dropped by 5%.
Simply put: police officers were quitting at unprecedented rates across the country to escape such a hostile environment, and departments were struggling to meet minimum staffing requirements. This coincided with a massive crime wave across America’s major cities.
“So at that very moment you’re hoping you can put police out there to try to deal with crime, you’re seeing the workforce shrinking with an unprecedented number of retirements and resignations,” PERF’s Executive Director Chuck Wexler told NPR.
While a shortage of recruits is no excuse for relaxing hiring standards for cops, it is a product of disastrous dynamics the Black Lives Matter movement and leftist elites have cultivated. There is a lot of power and money in stoking fears of racism and hatred. And it is all done at the cost of the safety of the American public, most especially black Americans like Nichols.
For sure, let the cops implicated in Nichols’ death be charged to the fullest extent of the law, but it is important to remember why officers of that quality were hired to those positions in the first place.
Victoria Marshall is a staff writer at The Federalist. Her writing has been featured in the New York Post, National Review, and Townhall. She graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2021 with a major in politics and a minor in journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vemrshll.