MPD to have fewer than 1,900 officers by end of 2017

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Despite being hundreds of officers short, Memphis Police Department needs more money from City Council.

MPD said the officers shortage is forcing the department to pay more overtime than was budgeted in order to keep Memphis streets staffed with officers.

"We have challenges, without a doubt. You've heard the director say many many times that our challenges are great," MPD Deputy Director Mike Ryall said.

The department told City Council on Tuesday that officers continue to leave the force. MPD estimates it will have fewer than 1,900 officers by the end of 2017. In January 2016, MPD had 2,044 officers, and the department said it needs 2,500 officers to be properly staffed.

"Anytime we see a staff reduction, like we've seen over the years, we are concerned," Ryall said.

MPD brass told council members overtime spending this year is roughly on pace with this time last year.

Last fiscal year the department spent $27 million in overtime. That was $11 million over budget.

This fiscal year the council made a slight cut to the department's overtime budget. That cut came with a caveat saying MPD could come back and ask for more.

"The offer still stands. If they need additional funding for this overtime, they can come back to the council. We will find the money and give it to them," Council Chairman Berlin Boyd said.

MPD's continued staffing concerns come as the US Justice Department announced Tuesday that Memphis would be one of 12 cities selected for a focus on violent crime reduction.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland hopes that means more FBI and ATF agents stationed in the city.

"Any manpower the federal government can give us can only help us," Strickland said.

City officials said they're still waiting to learn more about what the federal announcement will mean for Memphis. The Memphis-Shelby County Crime Commission is also looking into it, since their job has largely been monitoring crime data and trends.

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