localmemphis.com - There is a critical need for more Memphis police officers on the streets.
Local 24 has learned in the past week, five more officers have resigned from the department and taken jobs in other cities.
Meanwhile, contract negotiations between Mayor Jim Strickland and the Memphis Police Association have been unsuccessful.
The mayor will present a plan next week.
"These are critical times in Memphis when it comes to police. The city is short between 400 and 500 officers and Mayor Jim Strickland is also in the middle of contract negotiations. Now, how they are going is up for debate.
Strickland has met with members of the Memphis Police Association two times since elected mayor.
Those meetings were not contract negotiations. They were simply meetings where the mayor talked about trying to make things better for cops.
But contract negotiations are where all that talk is often thrown out the window.
"We're in negotiations with the Memphis Police Association this week and we're going to talk about our plan that may take several years to fully implement about how to retain and recruit police officers," Strickland said.
It might sound good. Those words are pretty empty as far as police association president Mike Williams is concerned.
"He said he was going to be different. That he wasn't going to be like the Wharton administration...that he would come to the table in good faith. Up to this point they have not been at the table in good faith," Williams said.
We learned that in the past week, five more officers have resigned from the department as well as four emergency dispatchers.
Williams said the Strickland efforts to try and hire new cops are not cutting the proverbial mustard.
"We have officers leaving left and right still. They started a recruit class with 37. The first week they lost three. So we're down to 34 and it’s only the first week," Williams said.
The officers who are leaving are leaving, not necessarily for better money, but for better benefits.
That is a key issue that city council members will have to look at doing the budget battle.
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