VOL. 132 | NO. 159 | Friday, August 11, 2017
Memphis Police Department Adds 85 New Officers
By Bill Dries
The Memphis Police Department has 85 new officers who were acknowledged at a graduation ceremony Thursday, Aug. 10, marking the first of two classes to go through the Memphis Police Academy this year.
“This is a really good first step,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said before the ceremony at First Baptist Church-Broad. “We need to have five or six or seven classes just like this all in a row to really make an impact.”
The police department’s long-term goal is a force of at least 2,400. The MPD is currently at around 1,900 officers. The short-term goal is to end 2017 with a net gain of officers on the force.
The 85 new officers come from a group of more than 100 recruits – 151 including police and police service technician trainees – who started at the Memphis Police Academy in March. It was the largest class at the academy in seven years. A new police recruit class starts in two weeks.
It is normal for recruit classes of 100 to yield only 50 or fewer new police officers once the five months of training is completed.
With the class that graduated Thursday, the city changed some procedures.
“Basically we’ve redone the whole hiring process almost from the ground up,” said Strickland, who took office as mayor in January 2015 with growing police ranks as his top priority.
“Before we took office, you could not apply for any city position, including police, online. You had to have hard copies and turn it in at a police station. That’s so antiquated,” he said Thursday. “Our recruiters were doing recruiting but unfortunately most of their time was spent on background checks and vetting candidates. We have people out there really recruiting, going to other cities to recruit. We’ve really stepped up the whole process.”
That also includes no more six-month wait between applying and starting at the academy.
“Our goal still is, in January I can tell you that for the first time in seven or eight years we have more officers hired than have retired.”