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Shelby County Commissioners discuss adding deputies to help fight crime in Memphis

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County Commissioners are mulling over the idea of adding more Shelby County Sheriff's deputies to help fight the crime in Memphis.

It's no secret the Memphis Police Department is understaffed, down hundreds of officers from where it would like to be.

"I see a chronically understaffed Memphis Police Department. I see that we have resources and the ability to help that problem," said Commissioner Steve Basar Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday commissioners talked about potentially adding 100 Shelby County deputies to give Memphis PD a hand and provide more boots on the ground in the city.

Top brass from MPD at the meeting said right now there are 1,928 commissioned officers including the director, but future crime plans say they should have at least 2,300.

"We have a challenge, needless to say. We’re in the middle of a very robust recruiting effort. We have about 100 people in our academy," said Deputy Director Mike Ryall.

MPD acknowledged they have a strong working relationship with the sheriff’s office and work with them all the time.

They also acknowledged if the sheriff’s department grows, some officers could leave to apply for a deputy position.

While some commissioners argued the need for extra boots on the ground immediately, others said they want to hear from city leaders or conduct a study.

"I would like for the Memphis City Council to weigh in and say we need your help. That has not happened. All I hear is we’re having discussions behind closed doors," explained Commissioner David Reaves.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell also said several groups would need to have a discussion regarding the issue as well.

"This is in the very early stages. We’re gonna have to do a lot more talking about it. A lot more studying before to see if this would really work," said Shelby County Chief Deputy Floyd Bonner.

WREG asked Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland what he thought about adding more deputies. He told us, “The Memphis Police Department has a great relationship with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and we appreciate everything they’re already doing to help us fight crime. If the Shelby County Board of Commissioners want to form a taskforce to find out other ways to help MPD, the city will be happy to participate.”

Commissioner Basar said the funding for the additional deputies could potentially be secured at next Monday's budget meeting.