MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - "In 2014, 18 officers were arrested and brought shame and dishonor to this department," said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong. "But if you want to be a thug, I promise you I will put you in jail."
Armstrong advised the newest officers to the police force to learn from those statistics as they prepare to protect and serve.
The director's candid comments came as 37 new officers took their oaths Thursday night during the first MPD graduation ceremony in nearly two years.
Armstrong noted some of the officers arrested admitted they never intended to play by the rules of the department.
"I cannot stand a crooked police officer. You will not straddle the fence here," added Armstrong. "They just wanted to use this as a platform to continue their illegal activities."
At one point, Armstrong asked anyone with second thoughts to simply get up and leave.
"They hear it. They may not act on it right then, but they hear it — and it's in the back of their mind when they're out in the world doing things," said resident Vena Johnson.
Some officers charged with criminal activity in 2014 may have resigned on their own. MPD fired two in 2014, and 10 the previous year.