City council members attempt to cut MPD overtime budget

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Memphis Police Department budget hearing had some very dramatic moments Thursday.

The hearing was scheduled to last 45 minutes, and instead lasted two hours.

Months after the deadliest year on record in Memphis, with 228 homicides, some Memphis city council members want to cut the proposed budget for MPD.

That budget from Mayor Jim Strickland has almost $6 million extra set aside for overtime for the force that is understaffed by hundreds of officers.

But Thursday afternoon, Council Chairman Berlin Boyd proposed twice to cut the extra overtime money to $4 million, and then to $2.5 million. Both proposals failed.

"We need to figure this thing out and here's an opportunity to figure it out without making a major impact to the overall police budget," Boyd said.

However, not everyone on the council agreed that the OT budget needed to be cut.

"You got to have people out there. It's going to take overtime to basically slow down what's going on," councilman Joe Brown said.

MPD is really the only group of employees receiving pay raises.

Some council members said they wanted to use the OT money to give raises to other city employees such as firefighters.

Ultimately, the council voted to delay action on MPD's budget.

"I think it's unfortunate that the city council is even considering any kind of budget cut for police with the current situation that crime is in in the city," said Matt Cunningham, with the Memphis Police Association.

Some council members said that MPD's budget has been padded by millions in recent years because the department is budgeted to pay for a full complement of 2,300 officers - which they do not have. The force currently has 1,946 officers.

MPD said that money is used to pay for overtime because they are understaffed.

This past year, MPD spent $27 million on overtime.

In this year's budget, they are asking for $22.4 million.

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