Officials Skeptical About Memphis Public Safety Survey

(Memphis) A new study released online lists Memphis among the cities having a high percentage of public safety employees compared to population.

It may sound good, but local police and firefighters are skeptical.

The study done by the website NerdWallet ranked Memphis 5th out of 239 cities for public safety.

It may sound like a great thing, and Mike Williams with the Memphis Police Association said it would be, if it was true.

“This has no indication of where we are currently,” Williams said.

The study states there are more than 2,800 police staff in the city.

Williams told us the information is three years old, so that number is off by more than 350 officers.

The company that did the survey says the information is from 2012.

The survey said MPD put 90 percent of its budget toward personnel in 2011.

It also said there are almost 2,000 fire fighters in the city, or 30 per 10,000 people.

Officials the Memphis fire fighters union said that information is also out of date.

“The Memphis Fire Department has over 100 less firefighters than we had three years ago,” union vice president Joe Newman said.

Williams is frustrated with the findings, saying they could give people a false sense of security.

“How do you feel walking around Memphis?” he asked. “If you answer honestly, you feel safe in some parts and in other parts you may not feel as safe.”

Public safety officials think Memphis has a long way to go.

“We think those numbers need to be back up to where they were several years ago so that we can provide the adequate response.”

It is response that Williams said will allow people to feel safe here.

“I was laying in my bed the other night, and I heard gun fire all over the place… Laying in my bed. I’m concerned!”

As of this year, the city has about 2,450 police officers on staff and about 1,600 fire fighters.

Chris Rein with NerdWallet sent us this statement via email, “I disagree that the study gives people a false sense of security as the article states. In the key takeaways section, the study specifically states that “a higher ratio of police staff to population does not necessarily ensure low crime rates.” We provide readers with a link to crimereports.com as a resource for them to see exactly where crime is occurring most frequently in each city, precisely because we are not making any claims about safety.”

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