NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Just hours before the body camera footage showing the moments that led up to the death of Tyre Nichols was released, his family, along with lawyers called on the end of the specialized police unit known as SCORPION.

“We are asking Chief Davis to disband this SCORPION unit effective immediately,” said Nichols’ family lawyer, Antonio Romanucci.

Specialized police units are now being called into question.

“This SCORPION unit was designed to saturate under the guise of crime fighting, and what it wound up doing instead was creating a continual pattern and practice of bad behavior,” Romanucci said.

Five now former Memphis police officers have been charged in Nichols’ death. All of the were part of the city’s SCORPION unit (Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods). The unit was designed as a group consisting of 40 officers who would deploy in neighborhoods, focused on crime hot spots.

“Tyre is dead because that pattern and practice went unchecked,” said Ben Crump, Nichols’ family’s lawyer.

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According to News 2’s sister station, WREG, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the unit has been inactive since the death of Nichols. Still, the family’s lawyer wants to see change happen across the state.

“I call on all chiefs in the country to review their saturation units, to review their special squad units and disband them, because they can easily become corrupted when they are told, they are whispered in their ear, ‘act with impunity,'” said Romanucci.

Throughout the state, specialized policing units are commonly used. Each one operates under different guidelines and standards but has similar duties, including working during identified peak times and investigating crimes like carjackings, armed robberies, and violent incidents within specific areas.

“We have had much success with specialized units, but this particular group of individuals for whatever reason defied their training,” said Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis.

In a one-on-one interview with WREG, Davis explained why she would oppose ending the SCORPION Unit.

“I don’t have regrets about creating units. Like I said, we just added more units to the department so that we could try to at least address some of the violent crimes that we’ve seen. What I will say is that we really need to look at, you know, supervision,” Davis said.



The Metro Nashville Police Department operates several specialized units to combat crime, including TITIANS, The Investigation Team Addressing Neighborhood Shootings.

Within the unit, seven team members have formed through repurposing the gang unit, detectives, and the juvenile task force officers. TITANS respond to serious shootings and “work to develop intelligence on persons responsible.”

Another specialized police unit was created in December 2021, known as the MDHA Engagement Section. The goal is to investigate carjackings, armed robberies, and other violent incidents of an apparent serial nature.

“Precision policing is one of the three key pillars of our police department, in addition to organizational excellence and community engagement,” Chief Drake said at the time of the unit’s announcement. “The new Violent Crimes Division will take a precision county-wide approach to identify and arrest those persons in our community whose acts of violence pose real threats to the safety of Nashvillians and businesses.”


The department’s Flex Unit consists of a supervisor, one officer, and one officer with a K-9 who adjust their patrols based on crime trends identified in the community. According to Mt. Juliet police, the unit has the flexibility to address neighborhood-level and area-specific problems by using increased enforcement and non-traditional methods, working during identified peak times for crime. 

K-9s used within the unit have the capabilities of performing building searches, tracking missing persons/suspects, article searches, narcotics detection, and criminal apprehensions.

Other police departments operating Flex Units include Hendersonville, Gallatin and Franklin.