City Leaders Warn Of Impact Of Job Cuts On Public Safety

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(Memphis) Memphis City Council members received a stern warning today from Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong and Memphis Fire Director Alvin Benson about what would happen if jobs were cut.

Right now, Mayor AC Wharton’s administration is proposing the elimination of 400 jobs: 300 jobs through buyouts and another 100 through layoffs. With most city jobs in public safety, that is where the impact will be felt.

“With this impact, it will adversely affect our abilities to offer services to our citizens because of the reductions in our staff,” said Armstrong, who predicts he might lose more than 150 officers.

“With this tax rate, we would have to reduce our staff by an additional 190 officers. Those officers would come from the uniform patrol rank which has the responsibility is responding to calls,” said Armstrong, who warned about longer response times from police and a reduction in crime initiatives.

The predictions for Memphis Fire were just as clear.

“If we cut this department further, we are looking at cutting fire engines, closing fire stations and those are the strategies we are looking at,” said Director Benson.

“We just started a class yesterday...I would have to lay those people off,” added Benson. Benson also warned of longer response times, a reduction in the quality of care and possible noncompliance with codes and standards.

Council members will meet Tuesday evening in hopes of coming to a final budget.