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VOL. 132 | NO. 57 | Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Police Recruiting Class Gets Started

By Bill Dries

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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland touted a class of 151 Memphis police and police service technician recruits Monday, March 20, as the beginning of rebuilding a depleted police department that is below 2,000 officers.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland welcomed the largest class of police and police service technician recruits since 2010 to the Memphis Police Academy on Monday, March 20, as the class began its training. Those who make it through the rigorous training will become Memphis police officers and PSTs in August.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

“This is a major milestone in our collective efforts to rebuild the workforce of the Memphis police department,” Strickland said. “This is a giant step toward our goal of restoring the number of police officers we have out on the street protecting the citizens of Memphis.”

The class that began five months of training Monday is the largest in seven years. Another recruiting class is scheduled for the fall.

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said about 20 percent of the recruits in such a class usually don’t make it through the rigorous process to become police officers.

“If you join us, you are joining one of the most innovative, one of the most technologically advanced, one of the most dedicated police departments in the nation,” Rallings said as the recruits stood behind him on the parking lot of the Police Training Academy in Frayser. “If you choose to take another career somewhere else then you are missing out.”

Training academy commander Lt. Col. Anthony Rudolph said the academy has been overhauled to train in a “different direction.”

“If you listen to the so-called naysayers, they will tell you that society is anti-police. If you listen to the so-called naysayers, they will tell you that you cannot attract people to this profession,” Rudolph said. “If you listen to the naysayers they will tell you that this profession will never bounce back. I’m glad that we don’t listen to the naysayers.”

As the recruits assembled inside the academy before the event, a training officer lined them up in two lines.

“If you see one of the recruits slacking, help him,” he said. “That’s what you are supposed to do.”

Rallings said a survey of Memphians on the use of force by police (www.responsetoresistance.com) has been extended until the end of the month.

“I need 100,000 Memphians to take the survey so we can have a conversation about the use of force,” he said, noting that 3,000 citizens have taken the survey since the first of March.

The survey is by a national group based on a scenario in which someone is under arrest and is resisting a police officer.

The U.S. Justice Department has called attention to policies of local police departments when police are questioning someone who is not under arrest or who are seeking information from citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Strickland said the city has slowed the net loss in police officers. The force now stands at 1,970 officers, by the city’s count.

“We’re taking multiple steps to continue to improve the pay and the benefits because we not only have to recruit officers, we have to retain them,” Strickland said. “The two years before I became mayor we lost each year over 180 officers. Last year we lost about 150 officers. We’d like to get that down to 110-120 officers per year.”

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