County could lend deputies to Memphis to help understaffed police force

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new plan being discussed to help alleviate Memphis Police Department's understaffing includes the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

Shelby County Sheriff's deputies could step in and help the understaffed Memphis police force.

Some county commissioners said deputies can help and they should because crime is out of control.

The deal could allow 100 additional deputies to assist MPD.

"Let's face it, it's not safe here in Shelby County. Commissioners, let's step in," Commission Chairman Melvin Burgess said.

Burgess issued a call to action to his colleagues about a plan, still in its early stages, to put deputies on patrol on MPD's turf.

"We are all concerned about the crime here in Memphis, and we are trying to do something that will help," SCSO Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner said.

Despite MPD currently recruiting heavily and getting recruits into the academy, the force remains critically understaffed.

Commissioners said they can't help with the MPD numbers, but they can take some action to help with crime.

"We can't do anything about that [MPD understaffing] because we aren't in charge of the city, but we are in charge of the county," Commissioner Steve Basar said.

County and city leaders have talked about a partnership in recent days. It's one that may direct the up to 100 new deputies into specific hot zones to help out MPD. But, it's too early to know how much this will cost the county and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said more study needs to be done, along with the opinions of city and county attorneys, before an agreement is finalized.

"I think it's got a long road ahead," MPD Deputy Director Mike Ryall said.

Not everyone is on board yet. Other commissioners had questions about what it would mean for the sheriff's department and if the plan would actually harm MPD.

"What's going to keep the people that work at the Memphis police from going over and becoming deputies because they're getting paid better?" Commissioner Terry Roland questioned.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd both said they were open to the county's plan.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he appreciates the county's efforts to help.

"The Memphis Police Department has a great relationship with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office and we appreciate everything they're already doing to help us fight crime. If  the Shelby County Board of Commissioners want to form a taskforce to find out other ways to help MPD, the city will be happy to participate."

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