Memphis, TN (localmemphis.com) - The Memphis Police version of March Madness, at least to some, happened when one hundred fifty men and women recruits showed up for their first day at the Memphis Police Academy.
They heard speeches from Director Mike Rallings and Mayor Jim Strickland they were shown off before news cameras, "They're parading these guys around like look a hundred guys," says Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams, " and they're just having a great wonderful time."
In one of the most violent cities in the country, where there has been trouble finding qualified recruits, marchWilliams says the red carpet rolled ouMarchand hasn't been pulled since."They took them to lunch at the Rendezvous," he says, " With all the power brokers there. they had recruits at each table and a power player at each table."
A spokesman for Mayor Jim Strickland says the city did not pay for the lunch. It was paid for by a group known as the Retired Carnival Kings.
The spokesman says lunch for recruits has happened before, but talking with several veteran officers indicates they've never heard of it happening.
That's not all.
We have learned two officers who at the training academy have moved after complaints of them being too tough.
Some recruits filed complaints about unfair treatment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and with city human resources.
"It's been pretty much stated or assumed," Williams says, "It's hands off these guys, we don't want to lose them."
Memphis needs more officers with the numbers expected to drop below 19-hundred sometime this fall.
Williams says what is happening right now isn't doing the recruits or the city any good. "If you baby them in the academy like this. I am very interested to see what's going to happen when they actually hit the streets."
Williams went through Army Boot Camp, and through the Police Academy, and says both places are tough pushing recruits to the limit, to give them an indication of what they will find on the streets.
He says some recruits have complained about the treatment they have received. "If you think you're being discriminated against now," he says, "Wait until you're out in the field, and somebody calls you a honkey, or a n****or they talk about your Momma, or your children, or they talk about killing you, or all kinds of things.
You've got to be able to function under those pressures."
We asked, but did not receive any comments from Police Director Mike Rallings.
The press people for Mayor Jim Strickland did release a statement which says "Being a police officer is a tough job. If our current class of recruits graduates, they will have earned the right to wear the uniform.
Any complaint from a recruit or any employee will be taken seriously and investigated. If any issue is discovered, the city will take corrective action."
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