Special crime-fighting units under scrutiny after Tyre Nichols video released

The Memphis Police Chief disbanded their Scorpion unit after video of Tyre Nichols' beating was released.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 6:55 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The release of the bodycam footage showing a group of Memphis Police officers beating Tyre Nichols is now raising questions about special crime-fighting units established by law enforcement agencies across the country.

The Memphis Police Chief disbanded their Scorpion unit after video of the brutal attack was released.

And here in Atlanta, the police department is no stranger to these types of units. They established the REDDOG unit in the late 80s to fight a rampant drug problem in the city.

Former Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant believes these units can be effective, but only with proper oversight and training.

“You have to rotate people in and out of those units. You can’t allow people to stay in those units for a long period of time because that’s when the culture of those particular units begins to get engrained and when you have an engrained culture that’s when you find you’re going to have some problems,” Former Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said. “They have to be trained adequately and they have to have severe oversight.”

The REDDOG unit was later disbanded in 2011 after complaints of aggressive policing and a violent raid at the Atlanta Eagle gay bar. REDDOG was replaced with a new unit called Titan which focused on violent crime without violent tactics.

“This shows there is a lot more work to be done in law enforcement. Law enforcement has to get it right. We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water because the community needs us. But the community needs us to do it appropriately,” Bryant said.

Chief Bryant said the Titan unit is now referred to as APEX. He also said these units typically focus on violent offenders which is something a regular police officer doesn’t have the time to do since they are responding to 911 calls.