Tarnished Blue lawyer fears chill between Feds and police - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tarnished Blue lawyer fears chill between Feds and police

Three Memphis police officers and a Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy, busted in an FBI sting, are home tonight, but their face-off with the feds is far from over.

Now, one of their lawyers says this bust may chill an already icy relationship.

The four officers came in to court today, flanked by cameras, to face a federal judge. They are being held up as the latest example of public corruption unearthed by federal investigators. But the bust may have other, unintended, side effects.

The announcement came Monday morning that three Memphis cops and a Shelby County sheriff's deputy had broken the law and the FBI was there watching.

Two days later and the four accused men were back at the federal building to hear their charges and to pay bail. And one of their lawyers, police union attorney Ted Hansom was hinting that the federal sting would be bad for business.

"What we have here is a basic distrust between local law enforcement and federal law enforcement and I think it goes both ways," said Hansom.

Hansom pointed to a string of recent federal charges, nailing local cops for making false statements to FBI agents.

His client in this matter, Charles Smith, was charged with tipping the feds to a crooked cop and then tipping the cop that the feds were on to him.

"Certainly, for the officer in the street, they're very hesitant to confide in and trust federal officers and this kind of thing certainly doesn't help the situation," said Hansom.

At the press conference Monday, U.S. Attorney Terry Harris was asked if it was typical for the FBI to be policing the local police.

"Well, I don't think...that characterization is exactly accurate," said Harris. "What you have is a combination of the FBI and the MPD and the Shelby County sheriff's office jointly investigating these officers."

Harris, and Police Director Godwin in an interview afterwards, pointed to a task force, made of officers from all agencies designed to keep things clean and fair and to avoid the feeling of interference.

The officers in this case were all charged in separate indictments with stealing money from drug dealers who, it turned out, were federal informants. The sheriff's deputy is charged with stealing stereo equipment.

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