Memphis Police Consider Eliminating Non-Emergency Calls

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis) A controversial plan to cut the cost of policing could save money but some say crime victims in Memphis can't afford it.

Many police agencies across the country, are moving away from offering full service policing.

This means an officer may no longer respond to your non-emergency calls, including burglaries. They will only take a report.

If you have your car broken into or walk in your home and burglars have stolen your TV, under this proposal, don't bother calling police because they won't come.

Reports will be taken on-line or over the telephone.

A broken door lays in the front yard of a Frayser home.

Ever since burglars broke in two days ago, Jessica Gray asks her mother to stay over when she’s working.

Gray said, “They took my TV. They took my money. They had my 73 inch that's in my front room outside by my door.”

She believes the TV was too big for them to load up.

“She was just terrified, really upset that this had happened because she worked so hard to get what she got,” said her mother, Hattie Jones.

Right now, if you call police they automatically respond to burglaries and anything else but the city says it’s costing too much money and it’s time to change the policy.

“If there's the proverbial cat in the tree, right now under our current policy an officer is supposed to go. There are many other cities that would simply take a report,” said Memphis CAO, George Little.

When they do respond to non-emergencies, Mayor A C Wharton has an idea, “Why not charge an incident fee? That's what some cities are doing.”

Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland is on board with the idea of police not running on every non emergency, “Why are we answering every auto wreck."

Councilman Joe Brown doesn’t believe changing is a good idea, “You must have full complement in your law enforcement division to make sure that the safety of the citizens of the city is protected."

In cities like Charlotte and Chicago, police already made the change.

It will take some getting used to in Memphis.

“When something like this happen I want to feel safe that the police will come out to see what's happening and see if they can solve what had happened,” said Jones.

The city says most of these non-emergency cases end up being insurance matters.

City administrators also say this would free up officers for more serious crimes and cut down on overtime costs.

This is just a proposal but in the next two years it could become reality.

Strickland wants to begin discussions on the proposal, right away.