Proposal to add officers faces several roadblocks

If the mayor has his way, soon more officers will be patrolling the streets of Memphis.  Raising property taxes to pay for that may be the most controversial item the mayor proposed during a press conference Thursday, but it's not the only roadblock posing a major threat to his plan.

Tommy Turner of the Memphis Police Association says the burden of maintaining harmony on the streets of Memphis will likely fall on its taxpayers.

"The public is going to have to ante up," he said. "They can't yell, 'We want the crime to go down. We want more police officers,' and it's not free.

Turner says a lack of money is not the only factor hindering the search for the most experienced officers.  His hiring pool is limited applicants who are willing to live within the city limits.

"That's a very hot topic," Turner said of the residency requirement.

Relaxing that requirement for police hiring is part of Mayor Herenton's plan to fight the war on crime, but the process won't be simple or speedy.  In 2004 the Memphis City Council adopted a "live in the city, work in the city" requirement.  Reversing that decision would require a change in the city's charter, and probably wouldn't make it to an election ballot until 2008.

According to council attorney Alan Wade, singling out one city department could result in lawsuits.  "This is mandatory.  This is what the council wanted.  This is what our citizens wanted," Wade said. "There would be some equitable argument about relaxing it for one class of people, and not others."

It could put a significant dent in the mayor's plan to combat crime.