City purchases new MPD patrol cars - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City purchases new MPD patrol cars

The city purchased 156 new patrol cars. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) The city purchased 156 new patrol cars. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

Though the city just spent $4.5 million on 156 new police patrol cars, some city officials question whether the city is doing enough to protect its citizens.

Councilman Kemp Conrad, chair of the council's Public Safety Committee, says the purchase is long overdue.

The decision to expand MPD's outreach seems to have public support.

"They can't respond to my emergency if they don't have cars," said Patricia Bryant, who volunteers in Memphis.

Conrad explained that the city has 1,860 police cars and four shifts for officers.

However, Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams, wonders whether there will be enough officers to fill the cars due to tensions between the city and employees over benefit and pension cuts.

"We already have 43 individuals who have resigned this year and 15 that have retired," Williams explained.

Mayor A C Wharton says he wants to increase the force from 2,130 to 2,500 officers, but Williams says the police academy is only bringing in about a third of the candidates it used to attract.

"With all the changes we've been through, one thing you've never heard us say is we're going to lay off as other cities have," said Wharton. "In fact, we're doing the opposite. We're hiring as fast as we can."

However, Williams is unconvinced.

"We did a survey and 64.7 percent of the police officers surveyed said they're looking for employment elsewhere," Williams said. "We did the same survey in 2013; only 52 percent said they were looking for employment elsewhere."

Wharton says the new cars will actually bring savings to help officers.

"Gas efficiency is one of our largest costs," said Wharton. "So, anything that goes straight to the bottom line, that's money that can go to the officers in terms of salaries and benefits."

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