Officers driving with expired tags

Officers at precincts across the city write tickets every day to motorists caught driving with expired tags.

State law requires all drivers keep their tags current.

It's a law some Memphis Police officers tend to overlook.

"I wish they had more workers to accommodate us," Kiva Mallory said just after buying new tags. "(It's) very expensive."

Expensive or not, it's the law.

Still, our investigation found some Memphis police officers ignoring the law they're sworn to enforce.

If you take a look behind the fence of "police only" parking lots at MPD precincts, you'll find officers who may think a badge gives them a free pass. At least when it comes to re-registering their personal cars.

On just one day-shift last month, our cameras caught car after car parked in precinct lots with expired tags.

"They should be penalized for that because they should uphold the law because they are the law enforcers," Mallory said.

And apparently law breakers.

Some examples, the tags on one Chevy behind the West Precinct expired last November, so did the ones on a Mercury we found parked at the Southeast Precinct. Two rows over, we spotted a Mitsubishi with tags expired since January of last year.

We ran those tags through the Shelby County Clerk's database to track down the owners, which we compared to a list of MPD employees.

Under Tennessee law, we can't disclose the names of police officers from that database. What we can tell you is on just one shift we confirmed at least six officers showed up to work driving cars with expired tags.

We saw a dozen more cars with tags expired for so long the clerk's office has no registration information on them at all.

All of it caught Police Director Larry Godwin by surprise.

"I can't imagine them just trying to get away with it intentionally like, 'well, I don't have to do it,'" said Godwin. "I don't think that's the mentality, but I sure don't know why."

Ultimately, Director Godwin told us he doesn't care why, and that the department will start cracking down.

"And if it takes putting a lieutenant to watch them drive on the precinct lot and issue them a citation then that's what we'll do."

Which is what one Memphian, who shelled out nearly $200 for new tags this year, says the department should have been doing all along.

"What's fair is fair," said Charles Bagley after he bought new plates. "I'm a taxpayer, they're taxpayers, so they should be pulled over and judged just as harshly as we are."

Since the law says, badge or no badge, driving past the date on your tag will get you a date in court.

In the days following our interview with Director Godwin, we went back to the precincts where we saw police officers' personal vehicles with expired tags. Some of them were still there -- still with expired tags.

We'll keep you posted on the department's crackdown to bring it's officers in line with the law.