(Memphis) “I think we have a great TACT Unit. It’s been proven over the years,” Memphis Police Union President Mike Williams said.
He was praising MPD’s TACT Unit, which was sidelined by the police director after an Oct. 15, 2013, barricade situation, during which TACT Officers Timothy Jackson and Paul Hutchison were shot by suspect Aaron Dumas during a stand-off.
Dumas died when the house he was in caught fire, and questions began about how the stand-off was handled.
Then Friday night, police sent out a news release saying the TACT Unit is being restructured, and reassessed.
For now, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department will handle its calls.
Williams says normally this would be handled internally.
“I don’t know of an organization that puts out a press release on its own that we are going to be standing down our TACT Unit and we are going to have Shelby County come in and take over. To me that’s a slap in the face,” Williams said.
TACT officers have special firearms and hazardous substance training and are called in on high risk cases like barricade and hostage situations.
The union says Memphis’ TACT Unit has nearly a 100 percent success rate.
That can come at a cost, like in January when a hoarder hold up in his home fired as TACT officers moved into arrest him.
The man was shot and killed.
Union leaders believe outside influences from the top are behind this latest move on the TACT Squad.
“It leads me to believe once again this is coming from city hall. There are possibly other motives,” says Williams. “This is our elite unit. Now you are telling me our elite unit is bad too. It’s almost like you are running the police department into the ground.”
Mayor A C Wharton’s office says this was entirely the police department’s decision in an effort to improve operations and training for the TACT team.
The TACT Squad will be out of service for up to three weeks.