Taxpayers pay millions in rent for Memphis Police Dept. - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taxpayers pay millions in rent for Memphis Police Dept.

(WMC-TV) – The City of Memphis is shelling out $118,000 per month to house the city's police headquarters at 201 Poplar.

It seems that police are caught between the pricey rent and the millions of dollars it would cost to relocate in order to achieve future savings.

When the 2012 Memphis city budget hearings kicked off, councilman Lee Harris opened up an old wound.

"The officers apparently housed at 201 Poplar, we pay $118,000 a month in rent there?" he asked.

Memphis police have been renting the space since 1982.

"Investigative units are housed there between three floors," explained Memphis Police Director Tony Armstrong. "The executive branch is also housed on the 12th floor there. Communications is also housed there."

The rent, footed by city taxpayers, has steadily increased to $118,333 per month. That is $1,420,000 each year.

Using an inflation calculator, that is a total of roughly $30 million over the past 29 years. If the high rent doesn't unsettle, maybe the close quarters will.

"I have not been able to grow at the investigative level because we simply don't have the space for it," explained Armstrong.

This problem precedes Armstrong by two police directors.

In 2003, former police director James Bolden said he wanted to move back to the old police headquarters on Second Street and Adams Avenue.

The abandoned 100,000 square foot building has the capacity to house 500 employees.

Former police director Larry Godwin also complained about the living situation.

So where does the challenge lie? The city estimated the move back to the old building could cost about $40 million.

The city also considered moving the Memphis Police Department to the new 911 center, but plans fell through on the $32 million venture because of the city's budget problem.

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