MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - After a day of rumors and a closed door meeting between Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Memphis Police director Toney Armstrong, the director still has his job. This is all coming to a head after a series of problems with MPD officers this summer, the latest being Monday night when a 15-year-old was killed by off-duty officer Terrance Shaw. Shaw is not charged with anything, but he is being investigated by the TBI.
On Tuesday afternoon Wharton told reporters in a press conference, "Jobs are on the line." That's how the rumors get started, as Memphis's normally cool, calm and collected Mayor was visibly upset. "Obviously something isn't working correctly," he said.
Wharton is looking for a reason for the bad cops, and many assumed that meant the director. After Tuesday's press conference, Memphis Police Association President, Mike Williams spoke out on Wednesday in support of the director, "He has not done anything that indicates he can't be trusted."
Councilwoman Janis Fullilove held her own press conference Wednesday calling out the Mayor, "It just appears like this is some kind of set up to get rid of Director Armstrong." She says, "I'll tell you one thing, if that happens there's going to be hell to pay there after."
After a one hour closed door meeting with the Mayor Wednesday afternoon, Armstrong says he's not going anywhere. "I am not stepping down; I am still the Director of the Police Department... I did not offer my resignation to the Mayor, nor did he entertain the idea of terminating me."
Tuesday, Wharton called the state of the department "unacceptable" but the director disagrees. "I think there are some issues he has a high level of frustration with," Armstrong says, "He and I talked about that but I do not believe as a whole the Police Department is in an unacceptable state."
Wednesday the Mayor cleared up confusion on where his blame is placed, "Last year, I chose Director Armstrong to lead this department." He says, "I knew he was an excellent choice then and I know he is an excellent choice now."
Armstrong, a cop for 23 years now, says he'll always be an officer first. Dealing with the politics of the job, and politicians, will take getting used to. "I think it's naïve of me to think that I'm going to manage 3,000 people and not have some of them put us in a negative light from time to time," Armstrong says.
Mayor Wharton is calling for a full review of the departments hiring practices and training.