Official says many factors contribute to decrease in tickets

(WMC-TV) - In the two months after the city imposed a 4.6 percent cut in pay for Memphis police officers, the number of tickets written in the city limits dropped more than 30 percent.

Memphis Police Union Vice President Michael Williams said the union is not behind what some officers told Action News 5 is an organized work slowdown in protest of the pay cut.

"I would say that morale is definitely a part of it," said Williams.

In July and August of 2010, officers issued more than 56,000 citations and summons.  In July and August of this year, they wrote slightly more than 38,000.

"We would not jeopardize the safety of the citizens," said Williams.  "That's not our goal."

Williams said there are other contributing factors.  Grant money that pays for traffic detail is running out, money for Blue Crush crime saturations has dried up, and during the July heat wave, officers were busy helping citizens.

An Memphis Police Department spokesperson said, "We monitor our officers on a continuous basis. The Director has not been directly contacted by any group of officers or any agency representing officers regarding a work slow down, stoppage, or job action of any kind. Such an action is a direct violation of MPD policy."

"While there clearly have been some recent trends, I'm not prepared to say that it's a result of some organized effort," said City of Memphis CAO George Little.

Until an organized work slowdown can be proven, a state anti-quota law protects officers from having to answer to a drastic decline in ticket writing.

"Officers cannot be disciplined or looked at negatively because they don't write tickets," said Williams.  "It's all their discretion."

The decline in citations was mostly for seatbelt and insurance violations.

It is too soon to calculate the final dollar amount of lost revenue during July and August, but last year the courts collected an average of a half a million dollars a month in ticket revenue.

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