This week's cover story, "Officer Down," traces the rise and fall of Calvin Hullett, a former Metro PD lieutenant and head of the local police union now serving a 10-month prison term for embezzlement. At the center of the case against Hullett are two surveillance cameras installed at the Andrew Jackson Police Youth Camp, footage of which can be found in the video above.
Andrew Jackson is run by members of the Fraternal Order of Police, Metro PD's representative union. The FOP brings in 50 inner-city kids every week for six weeks during the summer. According to Hullett, who, as president, went to the camp every summer for a number of years, the officers acting as counselors would occasionally get drunk at night and hit and/or intimidate the kids. Around midnight on June 9th, 2007, in an effort to embarrass the union, Hullett and three accomplices entered the camp, convinced an inmate working off his sentence as a helper that they were from internal affairs and wired the lipstick-sized cameras underneath the shingles of a deserted bunk house.
For the short few weeks during which they were taping, the most damning evidence Hullett's cameras were able to record was a night in which officers woke up the kids and chased them around the camp grounds, firing bottle rockets. (To see this, jump ahead to the 6:45 mark.)
There were a number of factors working against Hullett's surveillance. For one, Andrew Jackson sprawls over 30 acres. Recording only the area outside of a bunk house made meant he was only seeing a tiny portion of what was going on at the camp. For another, the man Hullett hired to do the surveillance, Shelby County sheriff's deputy Joe Everson, skimped on his services. Paid $5,000 to install four cameras, he instead only put in two.
It's debatable whether or not Hullett's "evidence" constitutes the abuse he says he sought to stop. With no sound and no context, it's hard to say exactly what was going on. But taken as a whole, along with recorded phone calls from his inmate informant about officers getting drunk while around the kids, it certainly speaks to the kind of behavior you wouldn't want from on-duty police being paid by the city. Plus, there is the simple fact that shooting bottle rockets at kids, along with being kind of a dick move, is never really acceptable.