MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As numbers in Memphis police officers and firefighters continue declining, there's a new effort to beef up protection against crime.
The first Public Safety Task Force meeting was held Thursday with a focus on preventing the steady loss of police officers and firefighters in Memphis.
City leaders said it was time to get creative and all options were on the table.
"It's pretty bad. I mean, I actually live in a pretty rough area too," Memphian Robert Gibbs said.
More than 400 officers have left the department over the past few years.
"It's gotten a lot worse. I really can't think of a way that I could, you know, bring officers here. I don't know if it's the pay," Gibbs said.
He said he knows the city is strapped for cash, but he said money is the only way to fix the problem.
"I expect them to get rewarded for, you know, putting their lives on the line everyday," Gibbs said.
Councilman Frank Colvett, who is leading the task force, said one solution that will bring officers and firefighters back is obvious.
"There's the 800-pound pension gorilla that we have to tackle, but one of the things I also wanted to talk about was the outside the box thinking is not just our recruiting, but also our retention," Colvett said.
They tossed around ideas such as offering more chances for advanced education and opportunities for career advancement.
"In all candor, what we need to do is continue where we're going, which is cutting fat out of the budget, cutting unnecessary expenses to take care of our police and firemen," Colvett said.
"There's no easy answer, but, you know, I trust that the city will find a way," Gibbs said.
The Public Safety Task Force will meet every Thursday in March at the City Hall. The meeting begins at 3 p.m. and is open to the public.