Lack of a police car leaves some MPD officers with idle time - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lack of a police car leaves some MPD officers with idle time

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis police officers are sworn to protect and serve, but some of them are lacking a key piece of equipment to do that: a car.

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin requested 200 police cars from the Memphis City Council this year, but because of budget cuts, he got only 145.

Recently, Action News 5 visited the MPD's Raines Station at the start of its 2:00 p.m. shift.  At that time, there were seven two-officer units ready for work, but only one car available.  As a result, 12 officers were forced to wait.

Some officers passed time by sitting, while others paced around the station.  The wait, officers said, is a daily occurrence at the station.  It's a situation Godwin is not happy about.

"That's your team out there," he said. "If you can't supply the equipment to your team, you can't expect them to play well, or perform at their best level."

Godwin doesn't like to call the situation a police car shortage, but he admits that budget cuts left him with less cars than he wanted.

"If we don't do anything else, we have to respond to calls for service," he said. "That's the first thing we've got to do, and we've got to have cars to do it."

According to Godwin, the department will be able to make due with the cars they have. But he is concerned that the city may force him to make more cuts.

"You'd say, 'Well, you'd cut cars before you cut people.' Well, not necessarily. It doesn't do me any good to have a body at a precinct that can't go make a call. Cars are very important,- that's how we respond to our citizens," he said.

A police car does a lot more than get an officer from crime A to crime B.  It's presence can prevent crime.

"When you see that marked unit, see that policeman and that car coming down the street, it makes you feel good," Godwin said. "When you start losing the ability to do that, there's always a potential you'll see crime rise."

At Raines Station, for roughly a half-hour each day, sit officers that could be making their presence known in some of Memphis's most dangerous neighborhoods.  Instead, Memphis' finest are left with idle time.

---

In August we reported about police cars sat idle for four months after arriving with carpet instead of vinyl floor mats.  Mayor A C Wharton blamed that problem on the city's General Services Division, and vowed to make changes.

After spending another $100,000, the carpeted cars are all fixed and back in service.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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