Former Police Director Talks About Recent MPD Troubles

(Memphis) From 1991 through 1994, Melvin Burgess led the Memphis Police Department until he and then Mayor Willie Herenton parted ways.

He knows the ups and downs current director Toney Armstrong is going through as the city’s top cop.

“Like I said I want to see him(Armstrong) do well cause I know what he’s going through. It’s more so now than when I was director back in ’92 and ’93 cause you got more activity on both sides.”

He admits Armstrong is facing his share of challenges.

“He’s got the budget over here. He’s got patrol over here. He’s got other things facing him, especially criminal activity by the officers.”

The latest bomb shell is that seven off duty officers suspended for beating up two University of Memphis students on Beale Street.

“If he(an officer) goes sour, he’s got to suffer the consequences. That’s how it is. I looked at trying to get an officer on the right track and if he’s incorrigible and has a pattern, he’s got to go.”

Burgess says any police director must bond and be visible with the community and media.

“Don’t be hiding and saying I ain’t here. That’s not trust. You got to get trust in the community and make them aware. They just want to know what you’re doing is going to be transparent.”

It’s advice from a former top cop to another one.

“Give him a chance. He’s got a lot going on. You don’t get rid of the coach in his first year.”

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