MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- While Memphis tries to boost the number of police officers on the street, you may be surprised to learn there are a handful of officers your tax dollars pay, even though they aren’t required to patrol.
It’s something Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has mentioned he may try to change.
There are three positions with the Memphis Police Association that are funded by taxpayer money, which are written into the contract between the union and the city. A version of that contract has been in place since 1978.
But after a week of feuding between the MPA head and the mayor, it seems the mayor wants to change who pays those union reps.
On Thursday, Mayor Strickland said he's working to get more officers on the street but also mentioned three people in particular he'd like to see in full uniform.
“There are three of them who are paid by taxpayers who are not patrolling the streets and they admit, I mean we’re all in agreement we’re short in officers, so I think it’d be great if they’d help out.”
He’s talking about the Memphis Police Association president, vice president and treasurer.
The Mayor and MPA President Mike Williams have recently been in public disagreement about the new billboards MPA put up around town. They show the city's record homicide number and the lack of officers.
They've led the mayor to challenge some of the MPA officers to help solve the problem themselves.
“I just hate the fact that the Mayor has to concentrate on Mike Williams," said Williams. "There are actually 1,900-plus members of the Police Association.”
Williams said he’s no longer going to comment on the matter, but noted the work the three MPA positions do for officers, such as handle grievances and hearings.
Both the Union and the city would have to agree on a contract that would make the union responsible for paying for those three positions rather than the city.
“We’re going to have to talk to them about it," said Strickland. "Like I said, both sides have to agree to it and hopefully that’s something they would agree to.”
Mayor Strickland said there are plenty of other cities where the police unions pay for their president’s salary. It’s not clear yet when a discussion could begin to renegotiate the contract here.