Police budget stretched due to dog calls, false alarms

(WMC-TV) - Loose animal calls are dogging the Memphis Police Department. A new report shows that calls for roaming dogs top the list of most frequent dispatches for more than half the department's resources.

Memphis has more police officers than Boston, El Paso and Seattle. So why are officers stretched so thin compared to other departments of comparable size?

A Washington based research firm says it's because Memphis is a full service department where officers must respond to the most minor 911 calls.

Analysts at the Police Executive Research Forum found it surprising that there were more than 8,200 dog calls into dispatchers last year.

Memphis City Councilman Joe Brown thinks the threat of vicious dogs in Memphis justifies police presence.

"I think it's very important you know we've got a lot of children now being mauled by vicious and we need sometimes it takes law enforcement to be on the site," said Brown.

More than 20,000 calls came into Memphis Animal Services last year. Still, dog calls are keeping Memphis officers from fighting more serious crimes.

What activity keeps Memphis police officers the busiest? Traffic stops. There are almost 500 stops each day in the Bluff City.

The second most common call into dispatchers is burglar alarms. Police responded to an average of 181 alarm calls per day last year. Two-thirds of the calls were false alarms.

Citizens are fined $25 dollars for a false alarm after the first four calls.

City council members say it might be time to rewrite the alarm ordinance.

"Because I know in some cities after the third or fourth alarm, it is a large amount of money for a fine," said Councilman Edmund Ford, Jr.

City leaders say taxpayers could save some of their own tax dollars by being more responsible.

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