Weekly Update: Your voice matters

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It may feel like over the last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time talking about MPD, police reform, the need for more officers, and our current residency requirement policy.

There’s a reason for that.

As it stands right now, the decision is up to you on this November’s ballot to determine whether or not our officers should be required to live in Shelby County to serve you on the Memphis Police Department. However, there is a move afoot by some on City Council to take that opportunity away from you.

In important situations like this one, I view my job as one in which I need to lay out the facts as best I can, make the case for why I think we should or should not do something, and then ultimately, I believe the final decision should be left up to you—the voters.

In last week’s Update, I told you about a recent staffing study we commissioned that told us we needed 2,800 officers to properly patrol all neighborhoods, investigate crimes, and to engage in community policing effectively. We currently have nearly 2,100 officers.

In the chart below, you will see there is a direct correlation with the number of officers in the department and level of crime in our city.


The way I see it is we have three main challenges just to maintain the 2,100-officer staffing level that we have currently—not to mention getting to 2,800 officers.

  1. On average, we must hire 125 new officers each year just to keep up with normal attrition.
  2. As noted in this article from Reuters, applications for those young men and women wanting to become a police officer are down nationwide, and it’s no different here. Going back to the March 2017 class, we had over 3,000 applicants with 110 to start as a recruit. For our most recent class, which will start on August 3, we had only 752 applicants. That’s a 75 percent decrease in applications for potential new officers.
  3. The last major challenge is that nearly 300 officers could retire today with full pension benefits, and as a result of last year’s public referendum health insurance for retirees may be added in 2021, which could result in a mass exodus of older and more experienced officers.

The workforce crisis we’re facing is real, and if something does not change, could result in an extremely low officer count of 1,800 to 1,900. If we get to these low numbers, history tells us that a significant increase in the violent crime rate could be the result.

For all these reasons, I am a proponent for lifting our current residency requirements for those men and women who want to become one of the Best in Blue. Furthermore, I think it’s important for the voters of this city to get the chance to voice their opinion when they go to the polls this November.

COVID-19 update: As we go into the weekend, I wanted to give an update on where we stand in the fight against COVID-19. In the charts below, you will see how dangerous the virus still is and how important it is to follow the instructions of the medical experts.


To break this chart out a bit, below is a look at the weekly hospitalization ranges during the weeks of the 24th through the 30th of April through July:

Month Hospitalized
April 99-113
May 133-155
June 227-251
July 359-365


In the chart below is information gathered from the Healthcare Resource Tracking System, which gives an overview of hospital bed utilization under current availability, as well as, hospital surge capacity. This information does not include available beds at the Alternate Care Facility, which at this time, has not been activated.


We are beginning to see some encouraging signs—we believe that your efforts of increased mask usage are helping to bring down the positivity rate of the virus. Now, it’s still too high—but for the first time in eight weeks, we have seen a decrease in the weekly positivity rate as the chart below demonstrates.


Stay vigilant and keep up the good work! We can’t do it without you.


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