Mayor responds after police director calls for more officers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings repeated a refrain we've heard many times, saying the city needs more officers and soon.

Only this time, Director Rallings made his plea on a new podcast called "The Permanent Record."

The podcast is run by Just City, an organization that fights for criminal justice reform.

Right now, the police department has about 1,900 officers, but Director Rallings would like to see that number increase to 2,500.

The Memphis Police Association said it also would like to see more officers in the department to help with issues of being overworked.

"You gotta go back to 2006, cause people approach me every day and say 'Director, things are so bad. Crime is at an all time high.' And I say 'No, it's not.' In 2006, crime was at an all time high. Crime was 27 percent higher than it is today."

WREG pulled the 2006 stats from the Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission.

Major property crime and major violent crime is down 27 percent and five percent respectively compared to 2006.

But murder is a different story. It's up 20 percent.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has been leading the charge to get the city to a compliment of 2,500 officers by aggressively pushing for new recruits.

When asked about the director's comment, the mayor said he plans to conduct a study to assess just how many officers the city needs.

"I respect Director Rallings opinion. He may be correct. I think he will also admit he is committed to doing a study to figure out how many we need. It could be 2,600."

Either way, he said he is a strong believer that the more officers you have on the streets, the more you'll see a drop in violent crime.

"We had almost 2,500 officers six years ago. We had 2,452 at that time. We had a 25 percent drop in crime in 2006."

The plan is to have 2,300 officers by 2020.