MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland calls it a very significant event. 85 men and women graduating from the police academy and now becoming officers.
Even the head of the Memphis Police Association says more officers is a good thing. Where they disagree is whether police officers will still resign and look for greener pastures.
These Memphis police recruits have always been treated differently. Police held a big welcoming event, showing off all the latest crime fighting stuff.
They never did a ceremony like it before, showing just how important city leaders felt this class of recruits was, and still is.
Mayor Jim Strickland talked about the graduation services with the anticipation of watching his children graduate college. "This might be, in my year and a half as mayor," he said, "... one of the best evenings I'm going to have."
85 men and women graduated. The biggest recruit class Memphis has had in many years, according to the Mayor.
A new recruiting class comes to the city in a few weeks.
They will graduate in January. Mayor Strickland says "I hope in January I'll be able to say that for the first time in eight years or so, for a 12 month period of time, we had a net increase of officers. More coming in than leaving."
When Jim Strickland was on Memphis City Council, there were at one time 2,400 officers.
Now there are just over 1,900 who are stretched thin, so any new cops will help, says Mike Williams, President of the Memphis Police Association. "Hopefully," Williams said, "... it will provide a break to some of these officers working 16 hour days, putting in all of this overtime."
Williams still thinks Mayor Strickland is wrong when he says the number of officers leaving is slowing down.
"We've had officers continue to leave, and I know they probably want to say its stopped, but it has not. As a matter of fact, I can take you in and show you my book. We've had three resign, RESIGN, this week."
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