Weekly Update

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As I have written about often, recruiting and retaining quality police officers for the Memphis Police Department has been a top priority for our administration from day one. While this is something that we can always improve upon, I want to remind everyone that this is a challenge faced in cities across the country, and we are performing better than some of our peers.

One of those cities, New Orleans, was written about earlier this week. New Orleans has its lowest number of officers on the street since 1947 with a little over 890 currently and a goal of 1,200 within two years. I hope for their citizens’ sake they are able to reach their goal.

But it won’t be easy. The job of a police officer is extremely difficult on a good day.

Rebuilding MPD. In the years before 2006, MPD had 1,700 to 1,900 officers. Statistically, 2006 turned out to be our worst crime year ever (and still is). Shortly thereafter, it was decided to grow the department. Recruiting was prioritized, and the post-high school educational requirement was eliminated. In 2011, the department peaked at about 2,450 officers, and it almost immediately thereafter started decreasing each year for several years. 

By the time I took office in 2016, the number of officers was in a free fall, and there was no plan to retain or recruit officers. Our office immediately put together an aggressive recruiting and retention effort. We brought back the position of Patrol Service Technician (PST) and improved the promotional process. Since we’ve taken office, and in partnership with the City Council, we’ve increased funding for the Memphis Police Department by over 20%, improved the pay, and improved benefits for our officers, and with the city council’s approval earlier this year, we now have the highest paid officers in the region for the first time in many years.

None of this happened over night. Since 2016, we have been laser-focused on addressing recruiting and retention for public safety. Below is a recap.


  • Conducted roadshow with HR Chief to solicit feedback on recruiting and retention solutions
  • Launched Best-in-Blue marketing campaign for police recruit
  • Transitioned MPD application from paper to online
  • Created the Private Exchange program to offer Pre-65 Health Insurance Options
  • Reorganized the Healthcare plan to offer Health Plan Tiers to accommodate Spousal Carve out
  • Established Wellness incentives
  • Revamped OJI and HHL Program policies
  • Committed to two-year promotional cycle
  • Updated PST program design – Created Blue Path pathway program
  • Created Single-role paramedic and Fire Lateral recruiting 


  • Created PIII rank for Police
  • Employee Referral Program—Police Recruit--$5,000
  • Launched MPD Retention Bonus Program - $6,400 - $7,000 for four-year agreement – 89 percent retention rate
  • Revamped MPD Lateral and Re-entry Programs
  • Created Public Safety recruiting team in HR to support MPD recruiting
  • Identified precinct recruiters to assist with and promote recruiting efforts
  • Implemented three-day hiring process for out-of-town candidates
  • Revised the minimum qualification requirements to include Criminal Justice degrees from National Accredited Schools, accept military reserve time, and candidates that have responsible work experience
  • Enhanced Tuition Reimbursement Program from $2,000 to $3,000
  • Advanced time to fill for MPD recruiting from nine months to four months
  • Pay for academy uniforms and shoes
  • $600 Student Loan Contribution Program

2018 – 2019

  • Access to two free onsite Employee Health Clinics that provide free medications and flu shots
  • Negotiated discounts for local colleges
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police Management Training
  • Expanded MPD recruiting into Military, College, and National Guard
  • Hired dedicated Public Safety Marketer


  • Provided extensive support to MPD and MFD during Pandemic (e.g., Working Well Housing Program, Hazard Duty Pay, Onsite Student Hubs)
  • 1st Tier One Agency in the Country to offer a confidential Wellness App
  • Integrated Psychological First Aid into In-Service Training
  • Joined TN Public Safety Network- Statewide Peer Support Organization
  • Launched a Suicide Prevention Campaign
  • Awarded $100,000 COPS grant to reduce officer mental health stigma
  • Launched Yoga for first responders and mindfulness
  • Partnered with Operation Hope to provide credit and money management to all ranks during in-service training, which will also provide 1:1 financial coaching to officer
  • Launched a zero-based Workforce Assessment to clearly determine what the ongoing MPD complement needs are for the future


  • Hired new Chief of Police
  • MPD Recruit - Reset minimum qualifications to POST requirements
  • Removed residency requirement for police and fire
  • Changed Physical Assessment to Physical Awareness Assessment
  • Added more incentives for police: $5,000 referral bonus, $15,000 sign-on bonus, $10,000 relocation assistance
  • Added more incentives for fire: $2,500 referral bonus, $2,500 sign-on bonus, $5,000 relocation assistance
  • Implemented sales tax – pre-65 group health insurance and 7.5-year employees in 1978 pension plan
  • Implemented one-time nine percent bonus
  • Launched “A New Era in Public Service” Marketing Campaign
  • Six percent salary increase over two years of members of the International Association of Fire Fighters
  • Started Fire Cadet Program


  • Implemented five-year retention opportunity in 2022 – 2027 – 85 percent take rate
  • 10% salary increase over two years for members of the Memphis Police Association
  • Leadership Academy training for MPD
  • Increased Police Recruit pay to PIIP pay
  • Future Recruit Program


  • Proposed and City Council adopted a 14% pay raise

Promotions—We committed to administering promotions every two years since 2016, which is the national best practice. Since our administration has been in office, we have facilitated at least three testing processes for every eligible rank.

While we still have work to do in this area, I want you to know that during my time as mayor this administration has worked tirelessly to improve the pay, benefits, and overall environment for our public safety officers. When you see them, please thank our officers for the work they do each day.

Build it and they will come: In December of last year, we opened the doors to our brand-new youth sports complex at Liberty Park. At the time, we were confident that the 230,000 sq. ft. facility would be a success, and now more than halfway through its first year in operation, it’s performing exactly as we had hoped. More than 630,000 people have walked through the doors, and we’re on track to hit our one million goal this year.

Thanks to Antonio Perez and his team at Eastern Sports Management for keeping the facility teeming with activities.

A new Tom Lee Park: Tom Lee Park has always been our signature riverfront park, and these new additions have made it even better. On September 2nd, don’t miss your first chance to experience the new park with a day (and weekend) full of fun, free, programs and activities. There will be great food and drinks, dancing, singing, cultural experiences and a full day of vibrant park life. 

tom lee

Beginning at 11 a.m., join the opening parade led by Lucky 7 Brass Band, the park blessing led by Church Health and a special holy water ceremony at the Tom Lee statue. At 1:00 p.m., the entire park will light up with activity through 10:00 p.m. with more fun to come on Sunday and Monday.  For a full schedule and to RSVP, go here

Enjoy your weekend!


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