ATF: MPD officer pawned police uniform for drug money - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

ATF: MPD officer pawned police uniform for drug money

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A judge ordered Erwin, 39, to stay in custody of the United States Marshals Service following the detention hearing. A judge ordered Erwin, 39, to stay in custody of the United States Marshals Service following the detention hearing.

 (WMC-TV) - Memphis police officer James Erwin appeared before a judge Friday. He is charged with smoking crack while in possession of a service weapon.

A judge ordered Erwin, 39, to stay in custody of the United States Marshals Service following the detention hearing.

Erwin took the stand testifying that he had been using drugs for four or five months, and that he had already spent 30 days in rehab this past June.

An ATF agent said Erwin pawned his MPD issued bullet proof vest, police radio and uniform as collateral for drug money. It was for money he owed felons who said they had been selling to him for six to 12 years. One said he sold to Erwin 72 times a year.

Erwin cried on the stand when asked to discuss his accolades with MPD. He said he was named "officer of the month" five times at the Airways precinct. He said he caught murderers and drug dealers and got guns off the street.

"It's tough for anybody to process," said Memphis police director Toney Armstrong.

Armstrong said Friday afternoon that everything moved quickly when Erwin was reported missing Tuesday.

"When we have a police officer that does not report to work at the time that he is supposed to, we take that very seriously," said Armstrong. "We did some follow-up and throughout the course of our follow up we were able to locate him. And everything else just kind of unraveled."

Armstrong says the entire incident serves as a reminder that officers are human, but that breaking the law will not be tolerated.

"If there is any kind of rainbow at the end of this storm, the officer has been taken off the street. He has been identified and he will be held accountable for his actions," said Armstrong.

Erwin was assigned a public defender who recommended he not be released but instead go into treatment. The judge ruled he remain in custody until a trial, the main reason being for his safety.

An arraignment is schedule at the federal courthouse next Wednesday.

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