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COVID-19 Update from Mayor Strickland (6-9)

One of the cornerstones of our nation is a strong and vibrant free press. With the addition of the Daily Memphian in 2018, our community added another trusted and reliable source of information to our local news outlets.

One thing I hope you’ve learned about me by now is that I don’t like to cause unnecessary controversy or give undeserved criticism. Now, having said that, if something is factually incorrect and/or misleading to the public, I have a duty to set the record straight.

Yesterday, the Daily Memphian wrote a story titled “Mayor vows to fight police brutality, but city blocks records”. This title is factually incorrect and misleading, and some very important details were left out of the article. The gist of the story (in case you haven’t read it) is that a reporter made a public records request for some documents and wasn’t happy with the amount of time it was going to take to get them back.

To give you some background, the initial request was made on June 1, 2020 for

“a copy of all unnecessary or excessive force complaints filed against officers of the Memphis Police Department from Jan. 1 2015 to the present along with any related paperwork. Related paperwork includes but is not limited to statements of charges, hearing summaries, written findings, appeals, records of suspensions and related items.”

The reporter received a response on June 3, 2020 detailing what it would cost to fulfill his request (which is dictated by state statute). Another request by the reporter was made on June 5, 2020 to inspect the documents in person (which can be done for free), and was told a status report would be given on June 9, 2020. The Daily Memphian story was published yesterday with the title as noted above saying “city blocks records”.

Now, just to put it into to perspective, each one of these files on the low-end averages around 100 pages in length, and depending on the complexity of the circumstances, can be upwards of 300 pages. So, that means in a week’s time, this reporter expected one of our officers to go through anywhere from 21,000 to nearly 64,000 pages of files.

And, it’s not just simply gathering all the information and handing it over. Per TN Code § 10-7-503, the governing statute for public records, each file MUST be redacted for personal and confidential information whether inspected in-person or outside of city government.

While I fully appreciate that our process is not perfect, allowing our Memphis Police Department only seven days to fulfill this request dealing with five and half years of data and thousands of pages worth of information is unreasonable. This is in addition to the hundreds of other public records requests they are currently working to provide to citizens and other news organizations throughout the year.

Shelby County Health Department COVID-19 Daily Update: June 9, 2020

COVID-19 Cases
Shelby County Cases6119
Deaths133
Total Tested in Shelby County89,428
Tennessee Total Cases26,944
*As of 2:00 p.m. 6/8/20
Other Jurisdictions:
Tipton County, TN480
Desoto County, MS633
Crittenden County, AR465
Numbers current as of 10:00 a.m. 6/9/2020

Shelby County Health Department is tracking clusters in facilities that serve certain vulnerable populations:

Here is information about clusters considered to be resolved. A cluster is considered resolved once a facility has gone 28 days without a new case.

Here is the most recent testing and case information provided by the Shelby County Division of Corrections:

The testing positivity rate is the percentage of all tests conducted that are found to be positive. The chart below shows Shelby County’s testing positivity rates over time, as of June 8, 2020.

Shelby County Health Department has added a data page to its COVID-19 webpage: www.shelbytnhealth.com/coronavirus.  It includes information about the geographic distribution of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County.

All of Shelby County, including the municipalities and the unincorporated areas are under Safer at Home orders. Some non-essential businesses may reopen under the guidance of Shelby County Health Directive #4, issued on May 18, 2020, which can be viewed here:  www.shelbytnhealth.com/healthdirectives.

For more information about the Safer at Home order or to register concerns, the public may contact:

· The Shelby County Mayor’s Action Line: 901-222-2300

· The Shelby County Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline: 833-943-1658

· Email shelbytnhealth@shelbycountytn.gov.