Police, Fire Heads Warn Public Safety at Risk with City Layoffs

Police, Fire Heads Warn Public Safety at Risk with City Layoffs

The leaders of Memphis public safety divisions say the city is about to get even more dangerous. The police and fire directors say budget cuts to their departments will make you less safe.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - The leaders of Memphis public safety divisions say the city is about to get even more dangerous. The police and fire directors say budget cuts to their departments will make you less safe.

It's all part of the city's efforts to get out of a deep financial hole.

Memphis City Council agreed to lay off 400 city workers. Some work for the fire department and for the police department. Directors for both agencies say it's going to be rough.

Fire Director Alvin Benson says the cuts are going to be awful for his department.

"You name it. Longer response times. Risk levels rising. Quality of care being compromised. Survivability of individuals experiencing medical emergencies could be compromised."

But City Council Chairman Ed Ford, Jr. says that's a lot of hot air.

"I know some people here say well if one firefighter is laid off, or if we can do this that and the other, all of Memphis is going to burn down. That's not true."

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says layoffs could hurt for years. The council isn't paying for any new police recruiting classes.

"I think you've got to understand we don't go out and hire people on a Monday and they go to work on a Tuesday. It takes five months to train them and another year to get them off probation," Armstrong said.

By now you might realize that Chairman Ford voted in favor of getting rid of 400 employees. He says the cops need to move a lot of officers from behind desks out into the streets.

"Instead of us saying, well we need more police officers, we need more police officers, well if they're not going to be patrol officers, if they're not going to be out on the streets, do we necessarily need more police officers?"

Watching all of this were employees who didn't know whether they'd have a job in another month or so.

The head of the Memphis Firefighters Association, Thomas Malone, says if these layoffs go through services will be reduced, and in his words, "Somebody is going to die because of the cuts."


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