Debate over MPA billboards continue

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- 228 homicides. 500 officers short. The message spelled out in big bold letters on billboards across the Bluff City.

"How does that sign help Memphis? It doesn`t."

Mayor Jim Strickland condemned the billboards during WREG's Live at 9 Wednesday morning. Now the Memphis Police Association is responding, defending them.

"The city`s simply going to have to make the second-most dangerous city in the country a more attractive place to work than cities that have less crime and better benefits," said Matt Cunningham with the Memphis Police Association.

This all plays out against the backdrop of bitter contract negotiations between the city and police. They want the city to restore healthcare benefits for spouses of city employees, which were scrapped last year.

"It`s easy to say that. How do you pay for it? You either have to make a massive cut in the current budget or you have to propose a property tax increase," said the mayor.

The Police Association said they're open to supporting a tax hike.

It's also important to note this isn't the first time they've resorted to billboards to get the city to the negotiating table. Back in 2013, they put up billboards declaring the city didn't care about public safety.

"Do you want us to be victims of what I call the `Battered Wives Syndrome?` You continue, continue to take and take and take and we say nothing?" asked Mike Williams.