MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - At a meeting Tuesday, Memphis City council members said reducing crime is the city's number one priority. Because the city has an operating surplus, council members Tuesday said they wanted to allocate additional funds to pay officer overtime.
Recent FBI statistics named Memphis as one of the most violent cities in America. Tuesday, Memphis City council members wanted to take action to improve the city's image and help combat crime.
"You need more boots on the ground," council member Jim Strickland said.
Strickland, along with Councilmen Shea Flinn and Reid Hedgepeth, offered a resolution: Give the police department an additional $5 million to pay for officers' overtime ,and $500,000 to the community enhancement division with the money earmarked for code enforcement, grounds maintenance and to help eliminate gang graffiti.
"He needs more officers. We're having a hard time getting them so what can we do in the meantime that's either use more overtime or recruitment more officers and we're willing to help anyway he needs it," Strickland said.
But Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin told council members he does not need the additional funding.
"I think the officers know they can pretty much work as much as they want to work," Godwin said.
According to Godwin, crime is down more than 6 percent in Memphis since 2006. What is needed now, Godwin said, is hundreds of more officers.
"Yes. I want officers on the street but really the way to fix this is to hire more officers," Godwin said.
Godwin insisted more officers - not longer hours - is what the department needs.
"You'll see their productivity go down. They're tired of writing tickets. They're tiring of making stops. They're fatigued," Godwin said.
The head of the police union, J.D. Sewell, agreed.
"We need more officers. we don't need a band aid the overtime to resolve the problem," Sewell said.
Council members tabled the resolution for two weeks so they can work with the administration and come up with other ways to combat crime in the Bluff City.