The “Thin Blue Line” of Memphis Police officers is becoming even thinner.
FOX13 News has obtained a Memphis Police document confirms the resignation of two dozen police officers and the retirement of several others since the start of the January.
This comes just as a new recruiting class will hit the streets in February.
“The morale issues are very unfortunate, but, they’re real and we’re just going to have to work our way through it,” said Ben Adams, Chairman of the Memphis & Shelby County Crime Commission. “We’re going to have to recruit a lot more people.”
Just weeks before the graduation of a police recruiting class in February, FOX13 News has obtained a Memphis Police Department special orders document with the names of officers who have resigned or retired this month alone. It continues a disturbing trend of defections in the department over the last two years.
“We have 22 that have already resigned,” said Memphis Police Association President Michael Williams. “We have three that retired. We have two that are not on the special orders which would bring it up to 24 that have actually resigned as of the 16th of January.
“In 2012 we had 2,515 police officers,” Williams added. “We’re now down to about 2,110.”
Both Williams and Adams agree most of the loss of MPD manpower is a direct result of the disgruntlement officers expressed in reaction to city cuts in employee pension and healthcare benefits. But, they vastly disagree over whether the cuts were necessary or not.
“People who had certain expectations and then you’ve changed what the rules of the road are. We had to do this,” Adams said.
“If you maintain the current benefit packages, you’re not going to get people who are going to want to apply and those that do apply are probably not going to meet the qualifications,” added Adams. “You’re basically going to have to have a whole regime change of your benefits program and people are going to have to know what they’ve signed up for.”
But their declining numbers indicate the only thing many veteran MPD officers are looking for is a way out the door.
As for Williams’ own future he says probably in February he will announce his decision as to whether he will jump into the 2015 Memphis mayoral race.