Police union claims suicide result of healthcare changes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams told WREG-TV  he knows of retired police officers who have taken their own lives over the pending revocation of their healthcare stipend.

"We got retirees that have already committed suicide over this. We got retirees that are not going to be able to get healthcare over this," said Williams to Marybeth Conley and Alex Coleman during Live at 9.

He said at least one worker committed suicide over city benefits being cut.

We know about the anger and the marches around city hall, but suicide?

Williams won't reveal the retired officer's name, but he says it happened, "The individual's wife had major surgery and he didn't know how he was gonna be able to take care of his wife. So it stressed him out to the point whereas he did what he did."

Williams says the retired patrolman in his 40s thought his wife would be better off if he was gone because she could at least get his insurance.

Williams predicted there will be more, "Even prior to this happening, we had told them that people were going to die because of this. A lot of people are not going to be able to afford the amount of money they are asking for."

A Memphis Police Department spokesperson tells us she is not aware of the retiree suicide.

Williams also repeated his claim that crime is up in Memphis, but the police department sent us stats showing year-to-year crime is down almost 4% and month-to-month 11%.

As of Monday afternoon, the number of MPD officers who have called in sick is more than 500.

Williams said officers feel betrayed by changes in healthcare for current and retired city employees, "You can't ask a police officer to run into an active shooter situation and get shot and say, 'We want you to do that, but we're not going to give you healthcare on the back end.'."

Administrators say officers are calling in sick to protest the changes and they are having to ask the Shelby County Sheriff's Office for help patrolling streets.

Fifty sheriff's deputies and reserves assisted police Saturday night and 37 Sunday night.

"We are constantly in contact with Director Armstrong and we will continue to do all we can to support in order to keep this community, his officers and our officers safe," says Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham.

The changes affect all city employees, but police and fire unions have been the most vocal.

“We have a responsibility to provide public safety,” said Director Toney Armstrong Sunday. “It has been challenging to fill all of our staffing levels, but at this point, no citizens are at risk.”

Williams said he understood why people are concerned about the sick calls and does not want to put anyone in danger, "I got kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts who live in this city and I want no harm to come to them. At the same time, I want no harm to those guys that you want to go out and get those criminals either."



  • Arkansas Police

    The City Officials or whoever this has the ability to give the Police Department what is deserves in benefit refuses to give the extra money that they have been paying themselves with bigger salaries for years than they should has remained unstable. That is one reason why the MPD have not gotten a raise in years.I have never known so many Cities down here in the South from Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas tohat does not make sure that the public protection agencies Officers have a decent salaries and benefit package they want to just give you enough to barely get by.But crime is constantly increasing and we are putting our live on the line for a few kibbles all of us is under paid.And they wonder why there are so many corrupt cops. I am not saying that is right to be corrupt but I am saying you push a person back to a corner, you do not know what they might do

  • Fedup Memphian

    The insurance rates for retirees have gone from approximately $400 to now $1,600 per month. Most of their pension checks aren’t even $1,600 – NO OTHER companies have increased their insurance rates that much.

  • Its Time

    Puck! You dude you risk your life for nothing, go ahead and do it mf..er. No you want because your scared. Mike is telling the truth, their have been a large number of officers that have taken their own life. The news cannot report on those types of incidents. Their are current and retired officers with cancer, widows with kids, individuals who has serious medical issues and this is all you have to say. United we stand and divided we fall..I’m in full support of MPD!

  • Sandra Varcadipane

    Yes, but it doesn’t take up your whole entire income. And it hasn’t gone up 400%. And the average citizen whose premiums have gone up is still working and can always get a job somewhere else. Plus they’re not on a fixed income.

  • Its Time

    Are you being shot at, fighting with criminals that refuse to go jail. What about when you lock them up you have a justice system that gives them bonds lower than the price of candy. The cycle only repeats itself.

  • Sparky

    As a matter of fact yes and no. Do you rush into fire a hell storm to put out a vacant building or even save the life of the innocent child that just got hit by a speeding car?

  • Sparky

    BTW, I’m one year from retirement and I still have to provide insurance for my family. It was promised to me then and now it’s priced out of reach with my pension. Do I keep working with these criminals or do I go to the private sector? Where I at least have recourse if my benifit contract isn’t adhered to?

  • Mike

    The problem is….there are no “benefit contracts” in the private sector. Governments are dinosaurs when it comes to benefits. However, some of that is deserved when you see what police/fire do for us. The reality is this: under Obamacare, retirees under age 65 will be able to get coverage cheaper than the City if they don’t have a large pension and retirees over 65 are going to be provided with a Medicare policy that will not be unaffordable. No one should be paying the $1600 that people keep throwing around. If they do, they need better advice.

  • Long Gone

    Welcome to the Affordable Healthcare Act. Yep that’s Obamacare. When you make the statement about company insurance rate, Well they got a wavier. Yep from the president. Its coming to all. Look at when your new rates kick in.The next round starts in October. Again welcome to Barrycare. Just a reminder elections have consequences.

  • D

    Go work at CRYE LEIKE you will cry like a baby when you see you paycheck. My girl works full time bring home $30 every 2 weeks the rest goes to INSURANCE. We both looking for better but what can you do it’s a job.

  • Enough

    The Military has open reserves spots also. You can actually get paid for it..if you pass . Look MPD and FIRE…welcome to what its like to actually serve your country…. You all get more than the non- active -duty person. We pay out the bum for our insurance. Obama screwed us all…most of you voted for him…HOPE AND CHANGE…its more like SCREW YOU AND SCREW YOU AGAIN>>.. SMILE…

  • Sick to my stomach

    You people are talking about getting a job somewhere else???? Where??? There are no jobs. Get it??? Whose big fault is that?? We have a great big job stopper in the White House. It is not A.C’s fault; it is the president you people elected. A.C’s following the guidelines for Obamacare!!!! They can’t afford it. Still drinking that there kool aid!! Lol Lol How is that hope and change doing for all you pitiful clueless people?

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