Councilman proposes new way to get qualified officers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andrew Douglas

Councilman proposes new way to get qualified officers

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - It has been a hot button issue for more than a week. Now, a new proposal is coming from councilman Bill Morrison - the same council member that drew up and passed a city budget proposal that lowered property taxes.

Top brass at the Memphis Police Department have been trying to hire 400-500 additional officers for more than a year, and say the problem is the residency requirements.  Last week a vote to relax residency failed 7-6.

Morrison is trying to get more officers without changing residency rules.

"We will make it attractive for you to come here because we want the absolute best that we can bring to Memphis to work on our streets," Morrison said.    
Morrison's plan includes a hiring bonus of $10,000 for each officer phased in over a two year period
Relocation Expenses would be paid - up to $3,500 if you relocate in Shelby County, and up to $5,000 to relocate to Memphis.
The plan requires a three year commitment. After three years, officers would be eligible for a college loan repayment of $5,000 dollars.

"This council has worked for a year," Morrison said. "Nothing has been done to hire police officers. It's time we do something, and I think this is a calculated step in that direction. It is a financial impact, but I think it's one as citizens of this city are will to make."

Council members were quick to react to the proposal.

"It looks good, but I want to get everybody else's perspective as well," council member Edmund Ford, Jr. said.

Council member Myron Lowery also sounded a postitive note.
"I think this proposal will go a long way in helping our recruitment of police officers here in Shelby County," he said.
But J.D. Sewell, head of the Memphis Police Union, was hesitant.

"You going to create a jealousy among the senior officers that they weren't paid 10,000 dollars to hire on," he said.

The proposal will not be discussed at a council meeting until December 16th.

Click here to e-mail Andrew Douglas.

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