MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It was tough to tell that police officers were at the Memphis Rotary Club meeting. There wasn’t a donut in sight.
That’s a cheap joke, and I apologize. Face it, however, there hasn’t been much to joke about or smile about when reporting on Memphis Police in the last few weeks.
“Can I tell you I will never lock up another police officer?” asked Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong. “No, I can’t. Can I tell you if I need to, I will? Yes, I will. If I have to lock up ten more this year, then I’ll lock up ten more this year.”
He ended up locking up another officer only a few hours after this interview, by the way.
The Director told the Memphis Rotary Club that what is happening isn’t unusual in Memphis Police history. 21 cops have been arrested, so far, this year. 24 were arrested last year. There were 17 officers arrested in 2010, and 18 arrested the year before that.
What made it a big deal this year was the reaction by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton after the shooting death of a 15-year-old teenage boy by an off duty Memphis Police Officer.
“I won’t say too much is being made of this,” Director Armstrong said. “We should be held to a higher standard. Officers shouldn’t put themselves in a position where they could be publicly scrutinized, as these officers have. So I won’t say too much. But again, at the end of the day, you have to have reasonable expectations.”
Mayor Wharton, earlier this week, said he and the Director will meet next week to announce the members of a new police committee - a committee the director is still in the dark about, by the way. “The Mayor and I have talked preliminarily about that,” he said. “We have not dealt with the nuts and bolts of it. I’m sure we will in the days to come, more sooner than later.”
The director says a critically important issue is to keep the public’s trust and confidence in the department. “I don’t think that’s been shaken,” he said.