Police Director in the Hot Seat

(Memphis) – With all the recent arrests and officer involved shootings, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong is in the hot seat.

“People think the director has it within the scope of my authority that I can clean house and start all over, but that`s just not the case,” Armstrong said.

Several of his officers posed for mug shots lately. The two most recent were arrested for domestic violence. Armstrong says there is help for officers, but some just won’t take it.

“Sometimes they don`t reach out for help they need because of all the machismo that goes on with being a police officer,” he said.

Armstrong’s working to change that.

“We are working hard to break down those barriers and let them know at the end of the day we are human,” he said.

And those officers are encountering increasing dangers everyday. The result, he said, four officer-involved shootings in six weeks.

“The thing you have to understand is especially in the shootings we’ve had lately the one common denominator is pistols are guns,” he said.”Our officers are encountering people with guns.”

Then just today an autopsy released detailing how 15-year-old Justin Thompson died. The medical examiner’s office said it was homicide.

He was killed in four months ago by off-duty Memphis Police officer Terrance Shaw. Shaw said he was being robbed.

Shaw’s off the job, and the case is being investigated.

”I have not seen the files. Part of the process is that the files are turned over to the AG’s office not the police department. She’ll review them. I expect to sit down with her in the next couple of days.”

With the recent rash of problems with his department, Armstrong wonders if the economy could be to blame.

“With the economy in the state that it’s in, you have people getting into law enforcement for employment not necessarily because their hearts are in the right place.’

While there are challenges Armstrong says he’s not leaving his chair anytime soon. He says he’s still the man for the job.

“Absolutely,” he said.

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