Memphis Police Department Cutbacks

Memphis Police Department Cutbacks

Mary Elizabeth Hagan, Reporter

This year’s Memphis Mayor, A.C. Wharton, has decided to implement a city budget. This budget was not supposed to have any effect on the public safety services, however, it has resulted in the closure of a fire station and could lead to the shut down of multiple police departments.
The police budget has been cut. Memphis Police Director, Toney Armstrong, elaborates on the funding difficulties ,”In the days to come, it’s going to be extremely difficult to staff those [officers],” Armstrong said. The council members outsourced the allocation of money to the administration who decided where the funds should be distributed. Most of the council members who approved the budget did not want it to effect public safety.
Memphis Police Director suggested that the cuts could have serious repercussions. He said other than closing departments, for budgetary reasons, the termination or extension of shifts could solve their funding problems.
The lack of funding could cause slower response times and less patrols which would be detrimental to the safety of the citizens of Memphis. The city has allotted an extra 9 million dollars for public safety this year, this is considered and emergency fund. Council members have given Armstrong the freedom to make cuts were he thinks they will have the smallest impact.
He says even overtime can be cut. Overtime is used to staff the police department’s statistic based crime fighting method. The council themselves did not cut the police jobs, but Armstrong has the power to make cuts where he sees fit.
If shifts were extended or cut the result would be a more inefficient police force. Also, the cuts would cause the geographical radius of patrols to become smaller. Overall the reduction of police shifts would cause gaps in the crime fighting in the greater Memphis area.
The budget cuts have caused the citizens of Memphis to retaliate. The majority of the Memphis police officers have participated in the “Blue Flu.” This is an open rebellion to the budgetary cutbacks, the officers are calling in sick to show their disagreement with the city council’s reductions.
The families and many officers themselves have held protest rallies and have openly shown their dismay to the council in forums where they aired their grievances. The citizens of memphis are outraged by the possible reduction for public safety, “They keep changing things as they go along even after the vote. They’re still saying ‘trust me, trust me.’ Why should we trust you?” says Memphis Police Association president, Mike Williams.
The budget cuts have not been finalized and the council is still trying to find alternative course of action for the redistribution of funds.