Mayor tries to stop ‘Blue Flu’ while other agencies go on standby as more officers expected to call out

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Blue Flu is impacting Memphis. While Mayor A C Wharton took steps Tuesday to keep the Blue Flu from spreading, sources told WREG by the end of the week, it’s expected everyone in the homicide bureau will be out sick.

Tuesday, MPD reported 554 people who work for the department were out sick, although sources tell us it’s more than 650 people, including more than three-fourths of the homicide bureau.

Mayor Wharton said the officers are playing hooky to protest the budget the city council passed on June 17 that increases employee and retiree health care costs.

Mayor Wharton will require everyone in MPD to follow city employee sick policy. He said the department directors will be responsible for their officers, and Chief Administrative Officer George Little will hold them accountable.

“It will be dealt with. Director Armstrong has already said he is going to take corrective action, and there will be more steps taken,” said Mayor Wharton.

Mayor Wharton said officers will have to provide a doctor’s note, which Director Toney Armstrong is already requiring, and officers will have to start calling their supervisor two hours before their shift to let them know they are sick.

The officer will have to let their supervisor know where they will be recovering, like their home or hospital, and stay there until they feel better.

Armstrong said officers could be suspended or even fired if they abuse policy, but Wharton mentioned the officers not get paid for the days the played hooky.

Some are wondering if it’s enough to put an end to the Blue Flu.

“If it’s higher in the police department like their patrol bosses, probably not. They are going to let things slide just like everyone else does a little bit,” said Memphis resident Tiffany Fredrickson.

MPD said the Blue Flu hasn’t affected safety, because they’ve ordered TACT and Organized Crime officers to patrol the streets.

Over the weekend, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office offered help. Tuesday, 30 deputies pitched in.

“Depending on the need, Director Armstrong will definitely reach out, and we will touch those individuals who need it,” said Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham.

Other agencies are on standby. State Troopers and Tipton County Sheriff’s Office told WREG they are just waiting for a call from MPD.