MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council wants to pay police officers more than the mayor budgeted, and the back-and-forth could force an entirely revamped city budget.
The Memphis City Council on Tuesday night proposed a 5% salary raise for MPD, up from the 3% that Mayor Jim Strickland planned for future budgeting.
Now it seems like a standoff is in play, with both sides digging their heels in at their proposed number.
The case for a raise for Memphis Police is an obvious one: They do a dangerous job for the good of the public.
“We really need to prioritize our public safety, our men and women who go out and risk it all every day and every night here in the city,” said John Covington with the Memphis Police Association.
Memphis police salaries rank second-lowest among law enforcement in Shelby County. Union representatives they don’t want to break the bank, but need a competitive salary to hire and retain quality officers.
"That to me is really important, is keeping those experienced officers on the job, the ones that are really effective," Covington said. "The more time you have on the job, the more time you learn to be a community police officer.”
Strickland’s office did not return our call or email requesting comment Wednesday.
But the mayor was in our studio two weeks ago, and was adamant that while he wants to give a larger raise, 3% is the highest he can go.
"We would love to give everyone a 10% raise, but we just can’t afford it,” Strickland said.
Although they understand the city budget will have to get reworked, Tuesday was a positive outcome for MPD. Now, they wait to see if the raise becomes official.
"We remain extremely hopeful," Covington said. "It was a true vote of confidence from the council.”
It’s important to note that MPD received previous salary raises during Strickland’s time in office.
Covington said they believe the relationship has worked well together, and hope it will continue to moving forward.
-- By Peter Fleischer