MPD Shuffles Officers During 'Blue Flu'

MPD Shuffles Officers During 'Blue Flu'

The Memphis Police Department is feeling the affects of the 'Blue Flu' sickout after 522 police officers called in sick Monday. So, just how is this 'Blue Flu' affecting MPD on a daily basis?
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com)--The Memphis Police Department is feeling the affects of the 'Blue Flu' sickout after 522 police officers called in sick Monday. So, just how is this 'Blue Flu' affecting MPD on a daily basis?

We don't know how long this blue flu will last, or if it will grow, but it's already causing problems. For example, everyone in the Economic Crimes Bureau called in sick Monday. 

At the South Main Street station Monday, officers headed to load up and hit the streets. However, many of those officers don't usually work there. They were brought in to cover for officers who called in sick.

This weekend, Shelby County Sheriff's deputies had to work the Entertainment District because of the sickout.

"I am concerned with the number of officers calling in sick. I am concerned with the things they are concerned about. This tells me they are tired," said Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams.

Williams says the union hasn't organized this sickout.

When asked how long he thought the sickout would go on, Williams said, "I don't know since I am not in charge of it and we are not facilitating it."

Williams says he is concerned that the blue flu will backfire. In recent weeks, there has been growing support from the public and businesses for city employees and their loss of benefits.

"I don't know what the public reaction is going to be to this, but I will tell the public that evidently, a lot of individuals have said we are stressed, tired and sick. We don't want to do this," said Williams.

The majority of police calling in sick are from the patrol division, which means officers are being pulled from investigative and specialized bureaus to respond to calls. No one from police top brass will reveal if or where there might be gaps in coverage.

"I can't tell you where they are. the mayor doesn't even know where they are," said Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery.

Lowery says many of the officers have a lot of sick time built up, which means the blue flu could last for a while.

"I think the public should know most of these officers are using the sick days they have built up, which they are entitled to," said Lowery.

In addition to regular days off and vacation days being cancelled, officers are being asked to work overtime to cover shifts. Others are being held four extra hours a day. 

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office has also volunteered to help. Even though deputies helped cover the downtown Entertainment District over the weekend, they were not asked to help Monday.
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