A gift of $6.1 million is nothing to sneeze at. In this case, it was a grant to pay for bonuses for Memphis Police in an effort to attract new officers and keep current cops on the force. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland loves it, saying “Nowhere in the country has a city received a $6.1 million grant for police.”
Mayor Strickland doesn’t know who donated the money, for the bonuses. Neither does Police Director Mike Rallings who says he’s just happy some people came up with the idea. “If I’m sitting at a table,” he says, “… and someone is trying to increase benefits for my police officers, if it’s a bonus…if its a raise…if it’s some incentive that gets them to stay with the Memphis Police Department then Director Rallings will give them a thumbs up.”
Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams says what a coincidence. The grant for bonuses was announced just one day before contract negotiations between police and the city were to begin.
Williams calls the whole thing a union busting attempt. “When you come up with $6.1 million… they could have done that 3 or 4 weeks ago. But they wait until the day before we sit at the table with the city to actually bring this to the public.”
Williams and others with the association have said the bonus plan is a slap in their faces…and hurts morale. “I’m not concerned with it,” says Mayor Strickland, when asked about morale. ” I’m not concerned about that. We’ve talked with police officers. We’ve looked them in the eye. We’ve listened to their concerns and we’ve taken steps to make it better. We started last year. This isn’t the end. This isn’t the last step to make them better compensated.”