(Memphis) The debate rages on about Memphis Police crime fighting initiative Blue Crush.
Tuesday, MPD Director Toney Armstrong appeared before several Memphis city council members to explain where the program stands.
“Blue Crush is still a viable crime initiative that we still use,” said Armstrong.
But what is lacking is funding for the program.
“We have not used the traditional methods to fund the overtime detail for Blue Crush. Our officers have opted to take accumulated time or comp time to everyone else in lieu of payments,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong said MPD was not given all of the money he request in last year’s budget.
Memphis’ top cop said he then had to make tough decisions about cutting overtime pay that was used for Blue Crush to pay for mandatory MPD needs like radio systems for officers.
But several city council members said Tuesday when Mayor A C Wharton presented the budget, it was not clear that they would be cutting Blue Crush funding.
“You are taking the fall for something you shouldn't be taking the fall for,” said council woman Janis Fullilove.
“I think the questions that need to be asked is, why did Mayor Wharton dismantle Blue Crush, major part in our success in lowering up crime rate,” said councilman Jim Strickland.
City Administrative Officer George Little spoke on behalf of the administration when he said “When it comes to matter of police policy and law enforcement, the voice in this city is Director Toney Armstrong.”
One thing everyone could agree on was the need for MPD to have the funding they need.
“What the council has said and the Mayor Wharton has indicated in a memo that the council has shown a willingness to fully fund what the police department needs,” added councilman Kemp Conrad.