MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The next police director for the City of Memphis could get a $100,000 pay raise if Mayor Jim Strickland gets his way.
The reason behind the proposed raise could have everything to do with the safety of Memphians.
Last month Strickland increased the police director salary to $150,000 a year. Now, he wants to raise it to $250,000. He said that's in order to make it more comparable with other cities the same size as Memphis.
It's necessary, according to Strickland, to find the best quality candidates for the job.
But some residents, however, said it's not necessary.
"I think that's a little bit too much for Memphis," Margarita Winfield said.
Winfield, like many other residents, said it is especially too much money when the average Memphis resident only makes around $22,000.
She said the person needs to earn that kind of money.
"I think a person has to prove themselves first," Winfield said.
Alex Davies is a teacher that moved to Memphis last year. Davies said he knows crime is a huge issue in the city, but agrees with Winfield.
"I think that seems a little bit high," Davies said.
However, some city leaders are backing Strickland's proposal and said you need top money if you want top leaders.
City Councilman Edmund Ford Junior said he does not want Strickland giving that kind of salary to just anyone, but agrees with the proposed salary if the individual has a track record of proving themselves.
For example, he said the head of Nashville's police department moved that city out of being in the top 20 in crime.
"He did remarkable things and he was given a very, very high salary and he earned every single cent of it," Ford said.
After changing the face of Nashville crime, he went on to lead the New Orleans Police force. It is that kind of key leadership and proven results Strickland is looking for and is proposing he is willing to pay to have in Memphis.
Strickland has said the only way to attract someone with proven results is to pay what other cities are paying, and that is $250,000.
Winfield isn't against paying a police director that kind of money if they have earned it. She said we should start the next police director at the current $150,000 and see what kind of results they get.
"If the crime rate is down, I say increase the pay," Winfield said.
Davies agrees in the idea of making them earn a pay increase.
"Make them prove that they are worth the investment," Davies said.
The mayor is still working on next year's budget to figure out where the extra $100,000 a year would come from. However, we know he is close to signing a contract with the search firm International Association of Chiefs of Police and hopes to have a new director in place by this summer.