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Director Armstrong stands by decision to stand down TACT

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong defended his decision to stand down the TACT Unit, the department's most elite unit.

He said benching TACT was his only option after two officers were shot and a suspect died in a barricade standoff Oct. 15.

Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams lashed out over the decision to sideline the officers calling it a political move. Director Armstrong said it was all about police work.

MORE: MPD TACT Unit ordered to stand down, commanders reassigned

The TACT Unit has a new command staff. The former head of Mayor A C Wharton's security detail is now running the team. Director Armstrong won't say if the unit did anything wrong the day the two officers were shot but law enforcement sources say procedures were not followed.

Director Armstrong made the call alone to stand down the TACT Unit after reviewing internal reports from Oct. 15, the day two officers were shot.

"I don't know of what other decision could have been made," he said.

Director Armstrong personally informed the 15-member TACT Unit of his decision. The team's three commanders -- Major Charles Morris, Lt. Earnest Greenleaf, and Lt. Webb Prince -- have been reassigned to other divisions within the police department.

The team was serving an arrest warrant on murder suspect Aaron Dumas. Cellphone video obtained by FOX13 News 13 shows the TACT officers engaged in a gunfight with the suspect. One officer was shot in the leg and pulled back to safety. Later that day a second officer was shot. Both officers recovered.

Director Armstrong said all aspects of the response will be reviewed.
    
"You have two officers that are shot from my most elite unit," he said. "You have a house that's been burned down and you have a suspect that's inside that's DOA."

The incident is also under investigation by MPD's internal affairs bureau.

A separate department assessment will look at the team's staffing, tactics, operations, and training.

According to the MPD, the TACT Unit is responsible for responding to the most dangerous calls, hostage rescues, barricade situations and high-risk arrests.

In 2010 FOX13 News was given a rare look at the unit's training. They're ready for a wide range of calls and making the team is a highly selective process.

While the TACT Unit is on the sidelines, MPD has asked the Shelby County Sheriff's Office to step in and handle high-risk calls within the city. SCSO already handled one call over the weekend.

But after the response Oct. 15, all TACT Unit officers will be on the sidelines for weeks.  

"There's no way in the world that we could re-evaluate what we're doing and still have that unit responding to calls such as that one," Director Armstrong said.

MPD the will be working with other police departments and tactical teams to review Memphis Police's procedures, Director Armstrong added.

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