Director Armstrong responds to critics calling for his job - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Director Armstrong responds to critics calling for his job

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

A string of crimes involving children in  Memphis is getting everyone's attention.

In the last week, Memphis has seen three teen shootings, two of which resulted in death, and another teen mob attack. All the while, MPD Director Toney Armstrong says crime is down six percent in the city.

"We had a terrible weekend by all accounts," Director Armstrong said. "I'm not downplaying that. We had an awful weekend but we're working hard to bring those investigations to a successful conclusion."

That response came Tuesday amid questions about an increase in crime. But, some Memphians say Armstrong is not doing enough, and many of them contacted WMC Action News 5 asking whether Armstrong is the right man for the job of top cop.

In response to people criticizing his effectiveness, Armstrong fired back.

"When things are going well you don't get patted on the back for it. This is a thankless job, certainly this is a thankless position, and when things are not going so well people tend to point fingers," Armstrong said. "Me being the most visible in the department, I'm the most visible person to do that to."

Armstrong says he has done the best job possible with the resources he has. He points to budget cuts and pension problems that have caused the department to lose nearly 500 officers in the last four years.

"We're still trying to accomplish the same thing with 2,100 officers that we did five years ago with 2,500 officers, and by all accounts, we are managing to do that. So, I don't think you can argue that."

Overall, crime is down six percent. Armstrong says homicides are down, too, but perception around town is quite the opposite.

"They need to enforce more laws, and they need to enforce laws that are in the books," Ayries Carter said. "They just need to enforce it. It would be a better neighborhood for everyone."

"Just makes me sad that we can't do any sort of, it doesn't seem like we're doing any sort of preventative things," Madison McCartney said.

Despite the criticisms, Armstrong stands by his leadership, his officers, and the job. Although he admits the department needs to look to improve every day.

"I think I've done a phenomenal job," Armstrong said. "I put together a good staff. They have done an absolutely phenomenal job, maybe I don't say that enough."

In fact, Memphis is not experiencing the worst crime ever. That happened in 2006 under Director Larry Godwin's leadership.

In that year, Memphis ranked first nationally for violent crimes. Right now, the Bluff City ranks third.

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