Weekly Update: A matter of residence


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If you’ve been watching local news recently, you may have heard the issue of residency requirements mentioned regarding Memphis Police officers. Last year, City Council voted to let the citizens of Memphis voice their opinion this November regarding whether or not we should allow some officers to live outside the county. Now, Council is debating to reverse their decision and not let the voters decide. I understand and respect the argument for residency, but I also understand the need for more officers and the difficulties we have with recruitment despite the tremendous amount of work we’ve put into it.

You’ve heard me say this before, but we are hundreds of officers short of what we need to effectively reduce our crime rate. As you can see in the chart below, the data clearly demonstrates a direct correlation with the number officers and the reduction in the crime rate.

crime rate

Over the last four and half years, we have done just about everything we can to recruit more officers.

Since 2016, we have:

  • Increased technology to streamline the application process and workflow by moving from paper to an online application which generated 13,000 applications in the last four years.
  • Launched a new website www.joinmpd.com  and print and digital advertising campaigns.
  • Partnered with consultants to review and used six sigma techniques to streamline the process and reduced the time to hire from nine months down to four months.
  • Created the Blue Path High School Pathway Program and reignited the PST program in 2017. Since then, we have hired 28 Blue Paths and 178 PSTs.
  • Introduced behavioral interviews to assess candidate interest in Memphis and law enforcement.
  • Created a new Public Safety Human Resources team.
  • Created a roadmap for the recruitment of candidates to the Memphis Police Academy. This included research to provide the best ROI in some or all of our targeted markets where we have a compelling story to tell around our cost of living, salary and other benefits. - Targeted local and regional colleges/universities - Targeted national colleges/universities with criminal justice majors and HSBCU - Targeted transition military personnel.
  • Deployed new employee referral bonus program - $2000.
  • Offered $5000 relocation bonus.
  • Issuing a Request for Proposal for a national recruitment marketing agency next week with a focus on national media/vendor negotiations - Social Media campaigns.
  • Down payment assistance for the purchase of a home in Memphis.

After all that work, we’re still hovering around a little more than 2,000 officers.

As it stands right now, we have nearly 300 commissioned officers that are eligible to retire. Last year, voters approved a referendum to provide health insurance to fire and police retirees, and this benefit may start in 2021. As a result, we could see the majority of those officers leave which would reduce our complement to a record low number in the last decade.

Bottom line: We may be facing a greatly depleted police force, and the Council may limit your ability to decide to help.

As you can imagine and as most of you probably do prior to making a big decision, you do your research. When it comes to this issue, we’ve done ours and most cities do not have a residency requirement for their officers.

At the end of the day, the men and women of the Memphis Police Department have sworn an oath to protect and serve the citizens of Memphis. I think it’s important for the voters to decide whether or not the officer must live in Shelby County in order to effectively keep that oath.


Mayor's signature