MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - With twenty police officers arrested in Memphis on various charges this year, this has been a summer of bad cop news. Especially when one officer remains under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after saying he shot and killed a fifteen year old boy in self defense. “It is disturbing news,” admits Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong. “It is unfortunate. We’re not proud of it, but we own it. We hold officers who break the law accountable for it.”
Armstrong says he is often frustrated as police director. It is tough to work on long range plans for the department when there are all these bad cop brush fires breaking out that need immediate attention. This time though, Armstrong and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton say they’ve got a good plan and a good start. “We realize,” Mayor Wharton says, “...there is just cause for concern in the community as a result of these highly publicized incidents of police officer misconduct.”
The city has hired three consultants: two retired Memphis Police Officers, and Reverend Keith Norman, the former head of the Shelby County Democratic Party. They will look over policies. Their goal is to keep the good cops good, and to try and determine what programs work and what need to be replaced. Mayor Wharton says “We’re working on the presumption that we’ve got a bunch of good cops and want to keep them that way. Whatever it takes.”
The consultants will be paid, by the way, and that doesn’t thrill Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams. “We can’t tell the Mayor what to do with the citizen’s money,” he says. "He’s going to spend it the way he wants to spend it, because evidently that’s what he’s been doing.”
It is going to take about a year for the three consultants to do their work. This will mark the second time in one year that Mayor Wharton has brought in a consultant group to look at the problems in the Memphis Police Department.