As City Council Talks Budget Cuts, Police Say More Officers Needed

(Memphis) At Memphis City Hall, there’s another study on efficiency and cost reductions that need to be made within the Memphis Police Department.

Hired consultant Dr. Richard Janokowski telling the Public Safety Committee Tuesday that MPD is only continuing to operate by paying large amounts of overtime, and that has to change.

He recommends freeing up officers by making the Sheriff’s Department responsible for security at the MED instead of the 20 police officers now assigned there. It would save $1.3 million.

He says using civilians to fill some police positions will also free up officers, AND allowing MPD to make promotions without City Council approval can create a steady stream of experienced officers.

“If you continue to allow people to walk through the door and not make plans to replace those people, it really stretches us extremely thin,” said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

He is still putting together the budget he will present to the council.

“Council has some tough decisions to make. You have to decide if public safety is  the primary focus, then we have to be able to fund that, to give us the tools we need to continue to fight crime,” Armstrong said.

Councilman Lee Harris is tackling another issue to make the city more financially proactive.

He wants to start a Schools Litigation Fund to set aside money in case the city loses its lawsuit with Shelby County Schools over money the school system says it is owed.

“We are the decision makers here. We have got to have a plan in respect to our schools. What we have here is a great litigation strategy. We have a great negotiation strategy, but we don’t have a great education policy,” Harris said.

The City Council’s Budget Committee voted to turn over responsibility for the Weights and Measure Program to the state.

That program monitors accuracy of  fuel pumps and scales.

Moving it to the state could save the city $400,000.

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