MPD retirement ceremony celebrates Director Toney Armstrong’s career

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Twenty-seven Memphis Police Officers retired from the department Friday.

The city's top cop, Police Director Toney Armstrong, was among that group.

Earlier this month, the director announced he planned to leave the department and accept the Director of Security position at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Armstrong was unable to hold back a smile Friday.

The department projected a picture of his younger self on the wall.

It served as a reminder of just how far he's come, from a police service technician to Director of Police Services.

"It's strange. You know, after 27 years of doing this. I started this when I was 22-years-old," Armstrong said.

Incoming Interim Director of Police Services, Michael Rallings, took a moment during the department's retirement ceremony to recall some of the struggles.

"'Blue Flu', where we lost 400 officers, at least 20 percent of the department. But we managed to walk out on the other side standing," Rallings said.

He also noted several of Armstrong's successes.

"Some of you may wonder how in the world did we avoid having the same amount of unrest as you have seen across the nation? I'll give you a hint. Toney Armstrong," Rallings said.

Armstrong was raised in Memphis.

"He's served this community 27 years, five as director. He's done a good job, and the city will miss him. I admire him as a person," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Armstrong said he is not off the clock until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

"Beyond that, I'm always going to offer my services to this city and to this police department. The incoming director knows that I'll be at his complete disposal," Armstrong said.

Armstrong's retirement comes in the middle of a TBI investigation into an officer-involved shooting.

Interim Director Rallings said one of his top priorities is to change the false narrative that officers are out to get people in the community.

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