Memphis Police run up a big bill patrolling interstates

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( – Money doesn’t grow on trees.

Police officers don’t work for free.

In Memphis, getting enough officers on the streets or on special patrols means its overtime time.

The police department is going through that right now.

They set their overtime budget in March or April, and at the time had no idea they would be patrolling interstates to help prevent shootings, as well as enforce vehicle laws.

 “I cannot make more police officers,” says Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings. “So, if I’m down police officers, I have to have officers on overtime to do that.”

He’s not happy about it. But Rallings says there is nothing he can do.

His interstate patrols in two months have racked up a lot of overtime. Rallings estimates its about $700,000.

“I think the last time I looked at it,” the Director said, “… I think 78-million people travel throughout our interstate system every single year. That’s a lot of people. A lot of people to worry about to keep safe.”

Mike Rallings doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with legislators in Nashville. It is more of an intense dislike.

He talks of how it makes no sense to him that the legislature allows people to keep guns in cars, but wants to punish people who use their cellphones while driving.

All of this leads to police overtime.

“I want to pack y’all up,” he says, “… and take you to Nashville, so you can ask your State Representatives from Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee, the Shelby County delegation, what are they going to do to make our streets safer. Because you’re always asking me that question and a police director can’t make a single law.”

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