E. Winslow “Buddy” Chapman, who was the director of the police department from 1976 to 1983, said he was surprised to hear that officers who were young and inexperienced were placed on a unit like Scorpion. When he led the force, officers were not considered for specialized units without at least seven years on the job, he said.
“You’re using officers to send a message that we’re here and we’re not going to tolerate criminal activity anymore,” said Chapman, who is the executive director of CrimeStoppers of Memphis and Shelby County, which offers cash for tips about crimes. “In that context, it can very easily go overboard, which it obviously did in this case.”
Chelsea Glass, an organizer with Decarcerate Memphis, which advocates for reform of the criminal justice system, said Scorpion was a “rebranding” of a common police tactic: a street crime-fighting team that relied on low-level traffic stops as pretexts to find violent criminals and weapons.