Memphis police officer shortage getting worse - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis police officer shortage getting worse

Analysis shows Memphis needs 2,400 officers to effectively police the city. Analysis shows Memphis needs 2,400 officers to effectively police the city.

(WMC-TV) - New data released by a crime expert reveals Memphis Police Department will be understaffed by hundreds of officers in the next three years.

This comes as the Memphis City Council starts making decisions on what to cut. With 70 percent of the city's budget spent on personnel, police jobs are on the line. When it comes to public safety, people have mixed views.

An analysis shows Memphis needs 2,400 officers to effectively police the city. Right now, only 2,282 officers are employed. The new data, compiled by crime expert Richard Janikowski, reveals the city will have only 2,101 officers in the next three years.

Memphis Police Director Tony Armstrong says 100 uniformed police officers are off the streets doing jobs that civilians used to do, after those civilian jobs were cut from the budget.

"Law enforcement and public safety are things you just can't fail at," said Armstrong."We have a significant portion of our civilian force that are just as critical to us as commissioner officers."

The crime expert says the only thing keeping the police department from collapsing is paying a large amount of overtime for unfilled positions and a ton of money on out-of-rank pay.

The city spent nearly three quarters of a million dollars last year paying regular officers to fill in for supervisors, because promotions are on hold so no one is being groomed for higher positions. Also, there are no active police academies to train incoming officers.

Janikowski calls the middle management gap frightening because half the department's majors and almost every senior commander will be retiring in the next couple of years.

"We definitely don't need a shortage," said resident Abbie Lipford. "Whatever we need to do to keep the number of officers we have and increase the number of officers that we have, I feel that we need to do that."

Janikowski says, if anything, the city and city council must authorize academy classes. The city is looking for efficiencies to come up with money.

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