Armstrong Cancels Regular Days Off as Blue Flu Spreads

By Bill Dries

As the work week after the Fourth of July holiday began, the number of Memphis Police officers taking sick leave grew from 308 Sunday evening to 522 by the end of the work day Monday, July 7 in a widening job action by cops unhappy with the city’s cut in health insurance benefits.

The first tally of officers out sick began at 181 Saturday.

In response to the broader job action, Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong cancelled regular days off for all Memphis police officers effective Tuesday until further notice to deal with what amounts to 23 percent of the police force calling in sick.

Armstrong had already assigned officers in special and investigative units including the Organized Crime Unit back to uniform patrol and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is augmenting the police ranks within the city including the Beale Street Entertainment District over the holiday weekend.

The city is also using overtime.

Also Monday, as expected, the city council announced it would field any alternatives to the health insurance cuts and proposed pension changes from any citizen who has a plan.

Council member Shea Flinn will oversee the forum through the council’s personnel committee starting at the committee’s Tuesday, July 15 session at 8 a.m. Flinn has also said there may be several such forums required and presenting a plan is no guarantee the council will adopt that plan.