Deputies could soon help police patrol Memphis streets

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A plan to put Shelby County Sheriff's Deputies on patrol on Memphis streets is looking more like a reality, with Shelby County commissioners giving initial approval to the deal Monday night.

County commissioners agreed to set $3.2 million aside in next year's budget to fund 25 deputies to help out the critically understaffed Memphis Police Department.

"There's a tremendous amount of detail work that has to be done," Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said.

Luttrell said Tuesday afternoon he already talked to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, and the two will be pulling together key players to see how an arrangement of deputies patrolling the city will work.

"We need to sit down and see where the gaps are...where we can fill in the gaps," said Luttrell. "Do we want to have targeted policing on the part of the sheriff's deputies, or do we want patrol services, do we want specialty units?"

"They could possibly hit some of those hot spots and deter some of that crime," said Mike Williams, President of the Memphis Police Association.

A handful of county commissioners first raised the idea last month. Commissioners on Monday night tasked Luttrell with 60 days of getting back to them with specifics, including how to recruit the deputies.

Memphis Police Department is currently paying millions in overtime just to keep enough officers on patrol for daily shifts.

"We know we have a staffing shortage of manpower, and the more help we can get the better," council member Worth Morgan said.

"I think it is past due time that we have greater accountability to know that our Shelby County taxes are coming back into the city limits of Memphis, so I welcome this," council member Martavius Jones said.

Luttrell said he'll be putting together a report to bring back to Shelby County commissioners.

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