Solution could set Memphis on collision course - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Solution could set Memphis on collision course

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

There are problems that call for solutions.

Often solutions are put forward when problems really don't exist.

But, next week the Memphis City Council will take up what's perceived by nearly everyone as a problem. But, in all probability they'll never find an answer to it.

Police officer Sean McWhirter this week became the latest poster boy for "bad apple cops" in the Memphis Police Department.

"It's frustrating to all of us," said Police Director Toney Armstrong. "It's frustrating to the mayor. It's frustrating to me. It's frustrating to the council. It's embarrassing to the police department."

READ: MOU with city of Memphis and Memphis Police Association
MORE: Too much red tape, not enough action


But Councilman Kemp Conrad asserts the real frustration in terms of public perception could be just beginning. It's figures to be another example of the long trail of red tape city employees criminally accused of bad behavior can enwrap themselves in for weeks and months while at the same time getting paid.

Conrad is working on lighting a fire under his colleagues and city administration next week to find some way to cut through it.

"It's something the administration's going to have to drive," he said. "We can pass a resolution. It may come to that. But, I think the mayor will see it the same way. But, I think this is something we shouldn't wait another year."

"It's not that simple," said Armstrong, who understands where Councilman Conrad's coming from. But, he notes the councilman's call for change could run aground due to a 30-year old Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the Memphis Police Association.

"We have an MOU with them, and in that MOU they're entitled to due process," the police director said.

So, there are steps that we have to go through even when we have those officers that have run afoul of the law and it appears to be a cut and dry case.

While "frustrating" seems to be a recurring theme in this situation you'd better not get Memphis Police Association President Michael Williams started on Conrad's proposal or a city administration he feels has already negatively impacted the city's thin blue line and public safety.
 
"When you have city officials that throw police officers under the bus, I think that's very unfair," Williams said. "The more you take benefits away from employees then you're going to get less qualified individuals that are going to want to come here and that's the bottom line. You're going to run all the good people away."

"If there are individuals that are out there doing things wrong and I have no problem with it, (being prosecuted) as a police officer because we want good people, we want honest people. We want people that want to serve the community," Williams added.

Oh, Mr. McWhirter, what a smelly "kettle of fish" you've just served up.

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