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Former Memphis Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations


WASHINGTON – Trennis Swims, a former officer with the Memphis Police Department (MPD), was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Memphis to 18 months imprisonment following his conviction on civil rights violations. After release from prison, Swims will be on federal supervised release for one year.

At his guilty plea on May 3, 2007, Swims admitted that in 2006, while on duty as an MPD officer, he surreptitiously stole cash from two drivers he pulled over and searched. Specifically, during separate traffic stops in September 2006, defendant Swims ordered the victims out of their vehicles and patted them down, removing personal items from them during the search. Defendant Swims then stole money from the victims before returning their personal items and releasing them.

“Law enforcement officials have a special duty to protect the rights of people in the communities they serve, not to prey upon them,” said Rena J. Comisac, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. “This kind of official misconduct undermines the noble work of our nation’s law enforcement officers, the majority of whom carry out their duties with dedication and honor. The Department of Justice will not hesitate to prosecute police officers who misuse their positions of authority to victimize others.”

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights prosecutions. During the past six years, the Department of Justice has prosecuted 25 percent more color of law cases and convicted nearly 50 percent more defendants for official misconduct than during the preceding six years.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Memphis and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.


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