MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Police Director Larry Godwin said Wednesday that wheels are gaining traction in his four-year plan to put more cops on the streets.
The announcement comes despite a series of recent speed bumps on the road.
Just this week, Godwin turned down an offer from the Memphsi City Council's offer to give the department $5 million to pay officers' overtime.
He said he is grateful but he is trying to avoid burnout.
Godwin said his officer recruitment plan is picking up steam, with the academy currently training about 70 new recruits.
"Hopefully we will graduate 55 or 60 of those and we've got another class starting in January. Another in February, March," Godwin said.
But at this pace, it will be a struggle to meet his goal to put 500 new officers on the streets in 5 years.
Godwin's suggestion for the council is to relax residency rules and allow recruits to live up to 20 miles outside the city. It is currently stuck at a stalemate in council.
"If they see that's not the way to go, well shoot, we're going to take what we can get," Godwin said.
Though officers got a 5% raise, the recruits start at $39,000 per year.
Godwin also wants better retirement.
Godwin is pushing his recruitment plan hard with upcoming TV ads, billboards, and more.
"We want to work a deal where we get into the Memphis City Schools and get these young kids to get into our PST program," Godwin said.
He said if he can recruit those 500 new officers, he can save the city up to $5 Million in annual overtime.
Currently, 130 officers are on the streets. By next March, Godwin said, he could have 200 more if everyone who signed up actually graduates.