Memphis police director: ‘We’re in crisis mode’ as sick-out grows
(CNN) — Police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, are sick — sick of having their healthcare benefits cut.
Nearly a quarter of the city’s 2,200-member police force called in sick on Monday. That’s 522 officers, according to Police Director Toney Armstrong.
“We’re in a crisis mode,” he said. “We’re going to do absolutely everything we have to do to make sure that public safety isn’t compromised.”
Last month, the city council voted to eliminate the city’s 70% subsidy of health insurance premiums for members of the force. Premiums were also increased, apparently prompting an onset of the “Blue Flu” since June 30.
That’s when the number of officers out sick began to escalate. SOURCE
I say this in ALL honesty; no one is doing the job of Police Officer for the money, you are an Officer because it’s the right thing for YOU to do, you have a sense of pride and right and want to make your community a safer and better place for YOUR family and friends.
“The police association has not sanctioned nor orchestrated a Blue Flu,” said Michael Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association. “I would characterize it as officers that are stressed out, and they are very concerned about their futures.”
Stressed out? Ya think?
Officers take a lot of verbal abuse in the course of their duties, it’s the nature of the beast and no one wants to see a Cop when everything is going well, but when HELL breaks out in the neighborhood the biggest *haters* are the first ones to call 9-1-1, screaming and crying, begging for Officers to get there fast.
No matter how the situation turns out, good or bad, there WILL be those that blame the Officer, Dispatch, the Department and the City for whatever it was that didn’t quite make them happy.
Of course Officers are stressed out, and I know this from 1st hand experience; you can do certain things to an Officer, say things, disrespect him, his authority, many things can be said or done to an Officer, but when you start messing with an Officers family you just opened up that can of *Whoop-Ass* we hear so much about.
Cutting the healthcare benefits of the Officers not only places them in a bad position, it places their families in a bad situation as well, and THAT is NOT what any Department ever wants to do, intentionally or otherwise.
The public finds itself caught in the middle.
“We’re in a Catch-22 as citizens because, yes, we want the protection, we need the protection, we deserve the protection, but they need their rights protected, too,” Memphis resident Harriet Stanton told CNN affiliate WMC-TV.
We see the same thing here in Rowlett too; Officers that are seriously underpaid for the job they do and citizens griping because there’s not a Senior Citizens Recreation Center.
Tax dollars only go so far in ANY city, you have to pay your municipal workers a living wage, you have to pay your Fire Fighters and Police a living wage, and there has to be at least *some* additional incentive for these folks. Generally it’s the health benefits a city can provide because of their size, group membership and tax base.
Armstrong said it’s not hard to figure out why officers are upset. The changes are hitting them in the pocketbook.
“I certainly understand their level of disappointment and their level of hurt,” he said, stopping short of calling recent developments a strike.
I would bet serious money on this being a fact; the married Officers with families are being hit harder than unmarried/single Officers, and as stated prior, you don’t work for a Police Department for the money, but if you can’t make a living wage, if you can’t take care of your family, you look for other areas where you can apply your talents.
“You have to respect the process, and certainly we have a certain percentage of our force that has chosen to take another action.”
For the officers who remain on the job, there are no vacation or off days. Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies are supplementing the force. Tennessee Highway Patrol officers may pitch in too, if needed, Armstrong said.
Yes, you DO have to respect the *process*, but when you have City Administrators that make 6 figure incomes, well, the guys on the street are going to get restless when the city starts cutting their money and benefits.
One Memphis resident called for disciplinary action.
“I think they should be fired because it’s a responsibility for us that we have to be protected,” Helen Fulp said.
Somehow, I just don’t think Helen Fulp has a clue regarding finances and city services, much like the few here in Rowlett that constantly gripe, cry, complain and generally make a scene when the topic of TAXES comes up, not realizing, or understanding that you can’t have everything you had 10/20 years ago if there’s no tax increase.
Yet, there was sympathy from others.
“Let’s start up on top. Let’s cut the mayor’s salary. Let’s cut some of his assistant’s salaries, then let’s cut from some of those making these decisions,” said Calvin Harris. “Then, we see where we need to go from there.”
That might work for a city the size of Memphis or Dallas; our Mayor here in Rowlett only receives #150.00 a month to help off-set the costs incurred by him as Mayor, the City Council members receive $100.00 a month for their services.
I can’t speak for all cities everywhere but here in MY part of the world our city leaders, the elected ones, well, they aren’t doing it for the money either, it’s a labor of love for them too, they all have full-time jobs, but most, if not all of our Fire Fighters and Police Officers have *side jobs* to help make ends meet.
Maybe some folks that have a *hissy fit* when raising taxes is brought up need to try and survive the streets, the fires, the danger and the abuses our First Responders face on a daily basis.