MPD officers go online to voice concern about equipment problems - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

MPD officers go online to voice concern about equipment problems

(WMC-TV) - Some Memphis police officers are concerned about an equipment shortage they are blaming on budget problems. Recent city budget cuts, including a salary cut for city employees, have officers concerned about their safety.

Specifically, in recent online conversations on Facebook, officers have complained about problems with handheld radios.  In one conversation, an officer says, "If my handheld breaks, I ain't leavin the damn car!"

Friday, Michael Williams of the Memphis Police Association responded to the comments.

"I feel that the officers not being able to acquire a lot of the equipment that is necessary - that does tend to lead to an officer safety issue," he said.

According to Williams, a police officer's radio is his or her lifeline.

"If you're after an individual, the only way that anyone is going to know where you are, or if in fact you're injured, the only way they can find you is by your radio," he said.

But, Williams said, he has been assured by police administrators that recent budget cuts are not contributing to an equipment shortage.  Rather, he said, its more likely because of the transfer of police purchasing power from the city's Information Systems division to the police administration, under Director Toney Armstrong.

"Director Armstrong probably felt it would be best if he maintained control of that, to insure that the equipment that the officers need would be available," Williams said.

Williams believes there may have been temporary a lapse in equipment ordering, but a recent cut in pay has put officers on edge no matter how they interpret the symptoms of a budget crisis.  

"It kind of makes the police kind of jittery, and that will effect public safety," he said.

According to Williams, if officers don't have the equipment they need, it could make them hesitant about getting into certain situations - especially if they feel like their families aren't not going to be taken care if something happens to them on the job.

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