MEMPHIS, Tenn. — What happens to law enforcement officers on the wrong side of the law?
WREG has learned the number of Memphis Police officers arrested over roughly the last five years is staggering.
The News Channel 3 Investigators also uncovered how easy it is for those officers to cover their tracks and keep a badge and a gun.
Michael Montgomery told WREG he believes it’s an officer’s job to protect and serve, yet he said a Memphis Police officer violated his rights.
It’s been years, but Montgomery still recalled the details.
“October 24, 2012,” said Montgomery recalling the date of a road rage incident that led to a confrontation.
Montgomery said Darrell Malone, then an off-duty Memphis Police officer, flashed a gun at him, then used police connections to get his phone number.
“That is mind blowing. You’re the person to call when I have trouble,” Montgomery exclaimed.
Malone was charged with harassment, but found not guilty.
It wasn’t the end of his troubles. MPD fired him, then a woman accused him of rape.
“Did you follow that case?” WREG asked Montgomery.
“Yes ma’am,” he replied.
“Why is that?”
“I knew a bad apple when I saw one.”
Roughly two weeks ago, Malone was convicted of attempted rape.
The DA’s office asked Montgomery to serve as a possible rebuttal witness.
“I was willing to go back over the encounter I had with Mr. Malone,” he said.
The same year of the road rage incident, 28 Memphis Police officers were arrested.
Through open records, the News Channel 3 Investigators learned there have been 114 arrests of MPD officers in just five years.
“That’s definitely more than what we would want,” said Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings.
WREG sat down with Director Rallings to discuss not only those numbers, but what happens after an arrest.
“We have an internal investigation, we have an administrative investigation. The officer could lose their job, they could face a number of suspension days or be required to attend a mandatory program.”
Of the 114 arrests, the majority were DUIs or related to domestic violence.
(**NOTE- Some officers were arrested multiple times. There were 114 arrests, 104 officers arrested**)
“What does that say?” WREG asked Rallings.
“Well, it shows it’s a very stressful job,” he added.
Besides the DVs and DUI cases, a number of officers faced very serious charges including evidence tampering, rape and attempted murder.
Employment Status of Officers Arrested:
- Still employed w/ MPD- 34
Director Rallings also said, “If an officer does something egregious enough, we don’t want that officer maintaining certification.”
However, WREG discovered 75 percent of those arrested Memphis Police officers, even some who were fired, are still certified to work in law enforcement in Tennessee, meaning they could join another department.
Also, the agency responsible for enforcing law enforcement standards doesn’t always find out when an officer gets locked up.
Senator Mike Bell of Riceville, Tennessee introduced a bill last session that would have required an officer, his employer and the arresting agency to report an arrest to the POST Commission within 24 hours.
“The POST Commission didn’t know what was going on and we want to be sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Senator Bell.
Bell, who also serves on the POST Commission as one of two legislative appointees, said it stemmed from Metro Nashville police allowing officers facing serious discipline, even criminal charges, to quietly walk away.
Some found other law enforcement jobs.
Currently, agencies are required to report to POST when officers are suspended 15 days or more, discharged for disciplinary reasons or resign in lieu of termination.
Bell explained, “I don’t want somebody coming to work in let’s say McMinn County where I live, three hours away, who got in trouble in Nashville.”
The bill died but he plans to bring it up again next year.
Bell said other states have passed similar laws.
“I think it would just add a layer, it wouldn’t add a complete protection but a layer of protection to our citizens to know that the officers working in their communities are the type of people that we can trust.”
“We don’t want bad police out here, got it. We don’t want police officers out here that are renegades, got it,” said Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams.
However, Williams said the current rules are fine if departments enforce them.
“We don’t condone breaking the law, we don’t condone misconduct, but at the same time, I don’t want to hurt police officers either,” Williams told WREG.
MPD officer arrests have declined since 2011.
“Unfortunately we have some officers that make some big time mistakes, but those officers also come our communities, and they’re representative of some of the same things we see on breaking news every day,” said Director Rallings.
“There is no excuse,” said Montgomery. “They hold the power, they’ve got the cuffs, they’ve got the gun, they’ve got the badge.”
Which Montgomery said like it or not, comes with a greater responsibility.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said it didn’t maintain a “list” of deputies arrested, but could search information on a case by case basis.
Through news archives, WREG found 13 deputies were arrested (an additional deputy was indicted in 2011 in federal court) over roughly the last five years.
That figure doesn’t include jailers.
**Information listed in above documents was collected from the Memphis Police Department for the period 2011-2016 (July). Additional information regarding cases was obtained via court records.**