Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong is facing some tough choices as he tries to use a scalpel instead of an axe to find $6 million in budget cuts to his department.
"As it stands now, we're at our minimum staffing levels with our precincts," Director Armstrong said during a Monday morning news conference. "So, we have to ask ourselves and be prepared for the answer to that. How much longer can we not hire and not add to our staff with the amount of people we have retiring and adequately staff nine precincts?"
Although he didn't rule out the possibility of precinct closings, Director Armstrong asserted such a decision would be regarded as "worst case scenario" for now. But, you can tell the wheels are turning and the stomach maybe churning for the Bluff City's top cop as he ponders what he and his staff will come up with. His free-form thoughts would seem to include the following.
"Attrition and we do that through attrition. It appears that our complement as it stands right now would be decreased," said Armstrong. "Maybe deleting a shift maybe adding hours, maybe 10-hour shifts."
Here's a thought, with the cuts certain to effect the department's abilities to hire and promote officers, what about speeding up the hiring of PST's ahead of their suggested use sometime in the Wharton administration's five year plan?
"In the past PSTs has been a part of our complement with a 2,480-man police department. Not in lieu of," he said.
However, Director Armstrong did admit to a move to implement one budget reduction. The housing, feeding and medical care of retired K-9 unit dogs will now switch from the MPD to voluntary adoptions if the officers who worked with them will take over responsibility for them.
"Two or three year period, if you retire 10 dogs just imagine the strain of not only taking care of the dogs that you have, but also taking care of retired dogs too that you're not getting any services from anymore," he said.
It's going to involve a lot of tough choices and strategic planning around the uncertainties of who'll opt to stay, who'll choose to look elsewhere and trying to maintain an adequate level of public safety through it all.
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