(WMC-TV) – "Danger: enter at your own risk, this city does not support public safety."
That is the message on a number of new billboards placed around the City of Memphis by the Memphis Police Association.
"Fact of the matter is, it's simply not true," said Mayor A C Wharton.
Wharton said he has taken calls from people concerned about the signs.
"They are disturbed greatly," said Wharton.
Local tourism officials believe the signs send the wrong message to visitors and Memphians alike.
"Whoever came up with this strategy to try and get attention, I think it's very disrespectful," said Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau President Kevin Kane.
"This is how police officers, the ones actually out here protecting the city, feel," said Memphis Police Association President Michael Williams.
Williams said the signs went up to remind people of the battle employees continue to fight and the resulting impact on public safety.
"This has been listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the nation," said Williams. "We haven't hired police officers at the rate that we should have."
There are also unresolved issues concerning benefits and pay, including a pay cut Mayor Wharton said he's trying to restore.
"Here I am fighting to get the money back, but at the same time we get these billboards," said Wharton.
He said the message on the billboard may only damage an already strained relationship.