Top brass respond to allegedly bad cops - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Top brass respond to allegedly bad cops

As the arrests of four men in uniform were announced, many in Memphis were already forming opinions.

"I'd like to be surprised, but I'm not," says one Memphian.

"Any organization--you're going to have corrupt people," says another.

Memphis Police and the Shelby County Sheriff's Department have certainly seen their share. Former Police Officer David Tate and two other officers recently pleaded guilty in a scheme involving prostitutes, drugs, casinos, and the robbery of wrestler Jerry Lawler. More than a dozen sheriff's deputies were charged in May with smuggling drugs into the jail. This list goes on.

 "A criminal's a criminal--no matter what profession that person is in," says MPD Director Larry Godwin.

And Director Godwin says wearing a badge does not give you immunity.

"You have some individuals who have ventured out and done things they shouldn't have and we caught them," says Godwin.

Shelby County Sheriff Mark Lutrell hopes to catch questionable deputies before they're on board. He's enhanced the hiring process in his department.

"We ask them about any associates they've had with known criminal elements," says Luttrell.

He says recent indictments, arrests, and investigations are proof internal policing is paying off.

"Unfortunately we still have some people who should not be in this profession," says Luttrell.

"They know it's wrong, it's illegal, and we're going to deal with it," Godwin adds.

Both departments have more than two-thousand people on the payroll. Both have active internal affairs bureaus. Sheriff Luttrell fully expects other bad apples to turn up in the future.

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