I am writing to comment on the recent release of Body Camera footage from the City of Memphis Police Department in Tennessee that depicts the actions of several Memphis Police Officers arresting Tyre Nichols for an alleged traffic incident on January 7, 2023. The actions of these officers resulted in Mr. Nichols suffering severe injuries that resulted in his death three days later at a Memphis hospital. On Wednesday, January 25, a Shelby County Grand Jury indicted five Memphis Police Officers in the death of Tyre Nichols, charging them with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated Kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.
I would note that Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis quickly launched a comprehensive investigation into this incident, which included immediately suspending the involved officers and opening a criminal Grand Jury in cooperation with the County District Attorney. All five involved officers were subsequently fired on January 20, with the above charges being brought by the Grand Jury five days later on January 25th. With the release of the Body Worn and Pole Camera video, Chief Davis has publicly called the officers’ actions “heinous, reckless, and inhumane” and said, “In my 36 years, I would have to say I don’t think I’ve ever been more horrified and disgusted.”
I want to convey to our residents that I, along with my fellow Massachusetts Law Enforcement leaders, condemn the actions of these Memphis Officers. Both the Middlesex Chiefs Association and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association have publicly stated in the past 24 hours its commitment to holding police officers accountable for their actions through a “fully transparent” investigation into what transpired. Police leaders in Massachusetts have long supported transparency and oversight in policing with the goal of establishing strong relationships with those we serve on a daily basis. After many years of requests, the Massachusetts Legislature has delivered a Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST) tasked with establishing nationally recognized best practice standards in recruitment, training and oversight of those trusted with policing in our Commonwealth. Specific parts of police reform included strict legal requirements for officers to intervene when observing fellow officers using excessive force, in addition to mandates that require officers to employ de-escalation techniques in all use of force situations. Moreover, the Billerica Police Training Division has heavily invested in its officers’ preparation through the use of multi-week scenario-based training. This training works to develop and evaluate an officer’s ability to safely handle some of the most volatile situations they may encounter in their roles.
We realize that these types of horrific incidents can significantly erode the trust and legitimacy our officers work hard to build with the residents they serve. I want to ensure the community that we are committed to re-building that trust. Please know that I am here to answer any questions you may have about our commitment to that goal. I can be reached best through my email at rfrost [@] billericapolice.org.
Chief Roy W. Frost