Memphis Police Director Faces $6M in Budget Cuts

Memphis Police Director Faces $6M in Budget Cuts

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong is a man without a plan. The police department must cut almost $6 million from its new budget. The director says he's looking at several things, but so far all of his plans would make this city a little less safe.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong is a man without a plan. The police department must cut almost $6 million from its new budget. The director says he's looking at several things, but so far all of his plans would make this city a little less safe.

Crime has dropped five percent this year, according to Director Armstrong. He says the reason can be summed up in three words: boots on the street. The trouble is he's afraid cutting almost $6 million will mean those boots on the street will go away.

When Director Armstrong spoke to the media about the budget cuts, was standing in front of the new West Precinct on Crump, a place where he says the bare minimum of cops are working to keep things going.

"As it stands now, we're at our minimal staffing levels at our precincts. So we have to ask ourselves, and be prepared for the answer, that how much longer can we continue to not hire and not add to our staff with the number of people we have that are retiring and adequately staff nine precincts."

Director Armstrong doesn't have a plan, at least not yet.

"We're looking at some things. Maybe deleting a shift, maybe adding hours, going to ten hour shifts. We're looking at a lot of things."

Armstrong is also looking at the calendar. He is dealing with a department where hundreds are preparing to retire over the next year or so and he can't replace them; the city council didn't approve spending money for a new recruit class.

"So far this year we've had a 5 percent reduction in crime. And the only reason we've been able to have a 5 percent reduction in crime is because we've been able to put boots on the street. We've been able to strategically place people where we've needed them."

Toney Armstrong used to be in charge of a place that was a magnet for taxpayer money.

"Public safety has always been that entity that was put in a box and wasn't necessarily touched. But because of the financial state of our city that's one of the things that is not the sacred cow any more."

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