102 Officers Have Left MPD In 2014 - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

102 Officers Have Left MPD In 2014

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Memphis Police officers are fleeing the force faster than the department can replace them.

Through August 102 police officers have left the department. Of that number, 53 resigned from the force while 49 have retired. Mike Williams, the head of the Memphis Police Association, said many of those officers who resigned had just a few years on the job.

In the past month and a half 19 officers turned in their letters of resignation.

Williams blames the exodus on cuts to benefits and a chance for better opportunities around the country. The rate of violent crimes in the Bluff City is rising according to the latest data while the number of officers on the beat is falling.

"Those are the guys that get out of the car and chase people," said Williams, MPA president, who said officers are leaving to take jobs police departments around the country as they're offering higher pay and better benefits.

Recruiters from Dallas and Austin, Texas have already been in Memphis this year looking to hire.

"You've got the old cop and the young cop, and the old cop can tell the young cop how to do it," Williams said. "But it's them young guys that you're taking the benefits away from are the ones actually have to get out there and get in those fist fights, get in those fire fights, and all of the other stuff."

Officers say morale is down in the department. Hundreds of officers called in sick in July protesting cuts to benefits in what they dubbed the Blue Flu. The mass sick out came after city council in June voted to cut health care benefits for city workers and retirees.

The council is considering a plan to reform the pension system and put workers with less than 10 years on the job into a 401k style plan.

"You have to take care of your family, and them what do they have to look forward to, you're taking away insurance from retired employees so what's the motivating factor to keep them here," Williams said.

As officers leave the department is preparing to start its first recruit class in over a year. But Memphis Police won't be able to hire enough officers to replace the ones they've lost over the last two years.

"This administration has said that it would not cut public safety but it has in effect cut public safety through attrition," Williams said.

The next recruit class will train around 90 recruits. In the mean time more police departments from around the country are scheduled to be in Memphis recruiting officers next month. Houston, Charlotte and Chattanooga are all planning visits to Memphis.

If more officers get better paying jobs, these resignations numbers could continue to rise.

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