MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 80 Memphis Police recruits will graduate Thursday night from what the city is touting as the largest police recruitment class in at least a decade.
They’ll be hitting the streets as soon as Friday, which means hopefully some relief in the spike of crime we’ve seen.
Recent numbers show violent crime and property crime are up 10 percent in the city, and authorities think rebuilding the police department is a top way to tackle the problem.
The recruits have gone through about six months of training. They started with about 100 and now 85 have proven to be ready to go out and make a difference in our city.
“These young people are really top notch physically and mentally," said Mayor Jim Strickland. "They get the best training. I’m so excited for Memphis because this is a really good sign for the future.”
He said around 85 recruits are graduating. It’s the biggest class the Memphis Police Department has seen in seven years.
“We’re definitely looking forward to an additional 80-something officers hitting the street; that can be nothing but a plus," said Mike Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association.
The city currently has the lowest number of officers in at least a decade.
City officials said it’s contributed to more officers leaving the force than joining it, and to our violent crime rate going up.
“Police officers cannot eliminate crime but the more police officers we have, we can reduce violent crime," said Mayor Strickland.
After this class graduates, the city hopes to gain another 300 officers by 2020, bringing the total force up to 2,300.
“We’ve had three raises since January 1 of 2016, we’ve improved benefits, our new health insurance package is actually better financially for the workers and probably better service," said Mayor Strickland.
More boots on the ground also means current officers can see some relief in the field.
“I think it’s going to go a long way eventually because we are so short and that’s going to provide some relief to those guys working 16-hour days," said Williams.
There’s already another recruit class of about 100 starting at the end of the month. The mayor said the goal is to keep having two large classes a year to rebuild the department.