Police Officer Pawned Gun, Radio and Bulletproof Vest For Drugs

(Memphis) The Memphis police officer arrested Wednesday for using his service weapon as collateral to buy drugs will stay behind bars until his trial.

Officer James Erwin was in federal court Friday for a detention hearing.

Prosecutors argued Erwin should stay in custody because he knew the dangers of putting certain things in the hands of criminals.

The assistant U.S. Attorney said what Erwin was doing was a recipe for disaster.

An ATF agent testified that two convicted felons told him they’d been supplying crack cocaine to Erwin for years.

One said he been Erwin’s dealer for at least 12 years and supplied him with drugs about 72 times a year.

The ex-cons said in the past, they’d kept not only his gun, but his bulletproof vest, police uniform and police radio until he paid off drug debts.

Erwin’s family was in court to see him, but had no comment as they left the proceedings.

Erwin took the stand and admitted he was just in rehab in California in June.

However, he said he was a good officer and had been named officer of the month five times in his four years as a Memphis officer.

He talked about how he’d arrested murderers, drug dealers and helped to get illegal guns off the street.

Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams also said Erwin was a good officer on record.

Williams said, “We don’t know what may have happened in the last couple of years that may have dictated that this guy fall prey to those types of substances.”

Erwin wanted the judge to release him so he could go to another treatment facility.

However, the judge sided with prosecutors.

Prosecutors argued that for the officer to put his gun, police radio and other equipment in the hands of convicted felons put the community in danger and proves he lets drugs, not what is right, rule him.

Erwin is being held in custody at a federal facility in Mason, Tenn., in solitary confinement.

As he left court today, he mouthed the words ‘I love you’ to his wife and daughter.