MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Police Department has more officers today than it did a day ago.
As the 66 newest Memphis Police recruits filed in to take up their positions as officers, Director Michael Rallings gave a heavy dose of reality to welcome them.
"I know that if you break the law, we will do everything in our power to lock you up," he said.
It's a sign of the time in which we live.
Rallings and Mayor Strickland know police recruitment is a struggle, and by Rallings standards they're still understaffed by about 500 officers.
"For us to answer the almost 1 million calls a year and serve one of the largest cities in the nation, we need x amount of officers. 1,950 and 2,000 officers are not adequate to serve our city," he said.
For Strickland, it's been a priority since he took office. His staff says his recruiting efforts have resulted in the first overall staff increases in a long time.
"It's a multi-year task, but we're moving in the right direction for the first time in seven years," he said.
But the numbers suggest it's a slow climb.
On Thursday night, they inducted 66 new officers - bringing the department's total to 2,020.
That’s just four more than the department had in February of this year, meaning they’re holding steady but not really increasing.
Strickland's team also noted as of last August, the department had 1,909.
Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams explained why.
"Come September, October you're going to have an exit again of retirees. We still have individuals leaving on a daily basis," he said.
He says in order to truly get ahead, the department should offer higher pay and more secure benefits.
You can view MPD salary rates here.