Reggae singer Junior Murvin once sang of the twin perils of "Police and Thieves," but Shelby County (greater Memphis), Tennessee Deputy Sheriff Jodie Chambers may have merged the two roles into one. Chambers was indicted for possession of 12 pounds of marijuana, four ounces of crack cocaine, three counts of obstruction of justice, five counts of money laundering, three counts of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence or drug trafficking, and one count of violating civil rights by a federal grand jury in Memphis, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. Chambers was arrested April 16 and was jailed pending a bond hearing this week.
According to the indictment unveiled when Chambers appeared in federal court upon his arrest, the 13-year veteran of the force had teamed up with convicted murderer Leo Bearden in an informal drug-stealing and dealing enterprise. On March 31, the indictment alleges, Chambers "unlawfully took controlled substances and $6,000" from a drug suspect. He is also accused of using his .45-caliber service issue pistol to threaten and intimidate witnesses. The money laundering counts stem from the sale of stolen property and drugs, the indictment says.
Bearden was arrested during a search of North Tire Company, which is owned by Chambers. Police found him carrying a .40-caliber Glock pistol. He now faces additional charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Chambers, a former SWAT officer, most recently worked patrol on a midnight shift. He also faces administrative charges, Shelby County Sheriff Mark Lutrell told the Commercial Appeal. That action "will be swift," said Lutrell, who lamented the new stain on a department whose reputation he had been working to rehabilitate. It was "a dark day for police," he said. "We have some good people, and it only takes one to embarrass us."
But it's not only one cop, and it's more than an embarrassment; it's a national scandal. As this continuing Drug War Chronicle feature makes clear on a weekly basis, police are being corrupted by drug prohibition day in and day out in rural sheriffs' offices and big city police departments alike. Drugs may or may not corrupt the morals of those who use them, but the drug laws most certainly corrupt too many cops who enforce them.