After recent shootings, council may reconsider pay cut - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

After recent shootings, council may reconsider pay cut for city employees

(WMC-TV) - The death of Memphis Police Officer Timothy Warren is causing a firestorm of controversy over the Memphis City Council's recent vote to cut pay for police officers, and now a resolution to reverse the pay cut is in the works.

Sunday, Officer Timothy Warren was shot to death in the line of duty. The next day, a suspect pulled a gun on officers, and they shot him in the leg.

These incidents happened just days after the council cut city salaries by 4.6 percent.

"I say it will affect public safety," Memphis Police Association Vice President Michael Williams said.

Williams believes the cuts are having a psychological impact on officers.
     
"We've had officers being shot at more here recently, and if you start talking money away from them, they're going to be hesitant because they have to take care of their families and they have to ensure the futures of their families," he said.

Williams said the Memphis City Council voted on 2011 fiscal year budget without the final document in front of them, and details of the cuts are now trickling out of City Hall.

Williams has been fielding calls from worried officers.

"Police officers are putting their lives on the line on a daily basis here," he said.

Williams said police recruitment is also at stake.

"We have a lot of officers who turned down jobs in other locations," he said.

Williams believes the public has been lulled into a false sense of comfort.

"They say crime is down," he said. "I beg to differ again. You can always take numbers and make them to be what you want them to be."

Williams said the city council's discussion Tuesday night about rescinding the pay cut does not mean it's a done deal. So, the police union will continue exploring its legal options to either come to terms at City Hall or in a courtroom, he said.

The city restored employee death benefits just three days before Officer Warren's death, so his family will receive $10,000 dollars from the city.

Meanwhile, police officers and firefighters are exempt from layoffs, but not from the 4.6 percent pay cut. The resolution to reverse the pay cut is expected to be heard at the council's next meeting in two weeks.

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