Memphis Mayor Hits Back Over Controversial Police Billboards

Local News

A battle between City Hall — and the Memphis Police Association.

Last week welcome signs appeared along major highways entering the city of Memphis followed by some stinging facts:

228 homicides in 2016

Down over 500 police officers.

The billboards were placed by the Memphis Police Association, and they’ve caused a fierce back and forth between MPA leadership and the Mayor since then.

Strickland doesn’t like the signs as he reminded us Wednesday night almost a week after the signs appeared.

When the Mayor talks about the billboards, he seems the most upset we’ve seen him since he’s been in office.

Memphis Police Association leaders heard the Mayor say they’ve not offered any solutions to the problems outlined on those billboards.

In a news conference Wednesday those same police leaders say they’ve provided solutions.

“In addition to lacing up our boots and taking criminals off the streets, the Mayor wants us to do his job and prepare the budget,” said Matt Cunningham of the Memphis Police Association. “Let me be clear. The MPA supports whatever the city needs to do to provide benefits to attract new officers and retain the officers we have now.”

Matt Cunningham says police have provided solutions by losing millions of dollars in pay having benefits reduced and paid additional for spousal benefits, which were eventually dropped altogether.

All that said, the Mayor’s sentiment hasn’t changed.

He says all this back and forth is about one simple thing.

“First you got to take the signs down,” said Strickland. “They’re now trying to move the debate away from the signs, and the signs point out the problems we have, and we’re addressing those problems. We have in the last 13 months. The union’s not come up with any solution on the signs.”

Mayor Strickland says the signs are working to the opposite of what city leadership is trying to do, which is bring more business, residents, and tourists to the city.

Notwithstanding the sign controversy, Strickland says his administration will move forward with upcoming contract discussions with the Memphis Police Association in good faith.

He says he is hopeful the signs will come down soon.

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