MPD using 35% of OT budget to stay running during staffing crisis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Statistics released Tuesday paint a grim picture of a police force using overtime just to stay running amid a staffing crisis.

Memphis Police Department said it used 35 percent of its overtime budget in the previous pay period just to meet minimum staffing requirements.

Director Mike Rallings went to City Council on Tuesday to show council members why his department needs help ASAP.

"We're always robbing Peter to pay Paul," Rallings told council members.

Rallings did not mince words. He said the department isn't using overtime frivolously. In fact, he said his department is paying it out just to stay afloat.

The department's last pay period's overtime breakdown was as follows:

  • 35 percent of overtime was used to keep a minimum amount of officers staffed on patrol.
  • 39 percent was used for extended duty--when an officer must stay over on a crime scene or to continue an investigation.
  • 10 percent was used for lieutenants to complete roll calls and payroll.

MPD's overtime budget came under the microscope during budget hearings when it was revealed that MPD spent $27 million on overtime in 2016. That's $11 million over budget.

"It's not that we're anti-police or don't want police on the street, but we have a budget that we have to balance," Council Chairman Berlin Boyd said.

The department paid for it's overtime overage by using money for unfilled positions.

Council members upped MPD's OT budget by $3.3 million for next fiscal year, but the council said it wanted to take a broader look at the department's overtime spending.

"This particular format for me is helpful, but it could be a little more informative," Councilman Martavius Jones said after asking to see more than just one MPD pay period.

Director Rallings said the department needs 2,500 officers to handle the call volume in Memphis. Right now MPD has just 1,940 officers.

Presentations, like the one given Tuesday at City Council, are expected to continue throughout the year.

Council members said they want to see a comparison of year to year overtime use from MPD, as well as track police overtime on a regular basis in the public safety committee.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.