Friday, May 11, 2018

MPD Prioritizes Recruitment, Retention in 2019 Budget

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 12:18 PM


Crime reduction, community outreach, gang intervention efforts, and police recruitment and retention are the top priorities in the Memphis Police Department’s proposed 2019 fiscal budget, director Michael Rallings said Thursday.

During the Memphis City Council’s first operating budget hearing, it approved MPD’s budget with no amendments (yet). Rallings told the council that police recruitment and retention is the most important of the budget’s four priorities.

Rallings said his and Mayor Jim Strickland’s goal is to have 2,300 officers by 2021. Currently the department has 1,982 officers, and with about 983,000 calls to respond to each year, Rallings said the department is understaffed.

In 2019, MPD plans to hire 100 new officers, which would cost about $4 million, and hire 40 police service technicians (PST), costing $1.28 million. Additionally, $300,000 is slated to be put in the “Best in Blue” recruiting campaign.

With a shortage of officers, Rallings said more officers are needed to work overtime. For fiscal year 2018, the department is on track to go over its budget for overtime by about $4.5 million. Rallings said the amount is due, in part, to special events like MLK50, the removal of the Confederate statues, and the protests that preceded and followed their removal.

Rallings told the council that the department “is going to continue to do the best we can” to manage overtime, but that right now overtime is his only resource to ensure there are enough officers on the streets. The more officers that are hired, the less overtime money the department will have to spend, Rallings said.

Councilman Worth Morgan asked if the department is on the right track of graduating enough officers each year to reach the goal of 2,300 officers in three years. “Do we need to be more aggressive?”

Rallings said the department should be more aggressive and the “high-reaching goal” is to recruit 150 officers each year. “That’s our true goal,” he said.

“We’ve had some challenges actually finding qualified applicants,” Rallings said. “It’s not an issue of not having applicants, it’s an issue of having qualified applicants.”

The council has until the end of June to decide to amend the budget before final approval.

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