Police director, county commissioners discuss “low morale” at MPD

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County Commissioners held a public safety panel Wednesday for their fall retreat and wound up discussing Memphis police morale.

"The morale at the Memphis Police Department is as low as I've seen it in my lifetime. We're losing officers left and right," Commissioner Terry Roland said.

The commission doesn't fund police, but Roland asked Police Director Toney Armstrong to continue fighting to keep officers.

Armstrong said more than 300 officers have left MPD in three years.

"If you've ever seen me in [city] council, I have always been an advocate for 'please don't do this,'" Armstrong told the panel.

Armstrong said he has fought to keep city councilors from taking away benefits and for not providing enough money to recruit and promote officers.

He said he goes before 13 people, but he has no ability to vote.

WREG took these complaints to City Council Chairman Jim Strickland, who said the council is funding another MPD hiring class this spring.

"The number of police officers they've requested in the budget for the last three years has been approved," Strickland said.

Strickland said Armstrong told council members Tuesday that he wants between 2,200 and 2,300 officers.

"Over a couple years, we'll get to that point," Strickland said.

"We've just got to do a better job of getting on the same team and moving in the same direction," Armstrong told WREG.


  • Cityisajoke

    And the quality of people you are hiring won’t be bout NOTHING. They have no incentives. They will get all of the outstanding training…..just to take their accomplishments and go elsewhere in 3 years. The leadership in this city……pay close close attention people.

  • scooby do

    The short version of the MPD situation is this: First, there have been no raises in years, but there was a 4.6% pay cut. Second, the benefits have been cut to the point there is no retirement. Third, the benefits existed because it has always been a bad job most people wouldn’t do for twice the money and now with no benefits and more cuts on the horizon, everyone is resigning/retiring and there will not be anyone to take their places. It is no longer possible to work for the MPD.

    What the MPD is offering as far as pay and benefits is not competitive at all. Strickland can say what he wants but he knows he is lying and so does everyone else. The mismanagement of the city for years has left Memphis is a desperate situation that didn’t have to happen. The attempt to balance the city budget on the backs of the employees won’t work but will allow the city to hang on a little longer until the collapse. The police department is like a building that is being demolished. The explosive charges have gone off, the building is shattered and is falling to the ground, it just isn’t down in a pile of rubble yet but it is very close.

    Police are hated and the job itself is not well understood. The people of Memphis are about to find out their police department no longer exists and can not be replaced all so that people in positions of power can loot their tax dollars then move away when it comes tumbling down.

    • Gonebabygone

      They’ve been balancing the misspending on the backs of taxpayers for decades. It was only a matter of time before they lost so many taxpayers that they had to take it from employees. This is what happens when politicians pander to the poverty class to get elected, and choose to fool with things that taxpayers value like schools for no real reason other than to “stick it” to the “man.” Taxpayers get tired of increasing costs for decreasing service levels, flux for the sake of disenfranchisement in the school system and coddled criminal youth. Taxpayers leave, and leave city employees bound to an address by their employers behind with all the poverty class voters.

      Meanwhile, the city annexes a net loss area of sprawl(South wind) that will further strain the budget and manpower.

      The voters who are still here and voting against the status quo politicians are outnumbered by the easily bought poverty class voters who enjoy watching those with more than themselves get pummeled by their elected representatives, even if it is bad for the city as a whole. I mean, the poorer areas of town will be most impacted by city service cuts anyway…the areas with money that remain hire in private services like security on their own. The rest who don’t want to do that just move elsewhere, to places with less vindictive politicians and fiscally sound budgeting.

      Memphis would do well to wake up and realize it isn’t the crown jewel city surrounded by rural nothingness anymore. There are safer, less expensive places to live in the burbs with growing employment opportunities that’d keep their residents from ever venturing into Memphis.

  • Hounddog

    It is a money thing,all the years of mismanagement are coming to haunt Memphis and there is no viable plan to correct mistakes. Voters could make a difference by not voting for people who do no care about anything but a paycheck and a podium to spew their propaganda but that is not about to happen when you elect drunkards that do not even show up to vote on important matters.

  • jizzle

    225 million building project who gonna protect it. The more and more it goes on you don’t realize. The more you take away, the more you take their pride. They are caught with their pants down and they were trying to relocate dirty money.

  • GonetoGreener Pastures

    After over 25 years with the department, I thought I had found a place to stay a while longer and provide a service to the people of Memphis at the same time. I can see no possible explanation for some of the poor management mistakes other than that the city is deliberately trying to MAKE the MPD fail in order to hand the whole thing over to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. This is the same manor in which they dumped Memphis City Schools. Pay cuts, decisions which adversely affect quality of life, benefit cuts, constant statements that more cuts are coming, and constant blaming of the employees “greed” to cover poor financial decisions by the council. The common belief on their end is that the employees are too greedy and demanding regarding benefits etc; when in fact, most of these “benefits” were negotiated on and OFFERED by the city in lieu of deserved pay increase. When they knew they should do an increase in pay, but didn’t want too, they offered added time off or other “perks” as a way to save money. Now they are accusing the employees of breaking their financial backs. In truth, much if not most of the city retirement benefits are EMPLOYEE FUNDED. The city has historically put VERY LITTLE into this system. In fact, the city contributions are almost always less than they should be contributing to Social Security. Every corporate entity to which they claimed to be comparing to pays Social Security Benefits in the name of their employees as mandated by federal law. The city is excepted from this requirement because of the pension plan, but rather than using their funding to pay the pension, they have moved those funds to cover “projects” of the council. Now, when the pension fund is below the acceptable funding level, they blame it on the employees even though the employees have ALWAYS paid in their share EVERY PAYDAY.

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