Memphis police officers leaving the department in droves - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis police officers leaving the department in droves

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(WMC-TV) – Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says he is losing a mass number of employees this year and your public safety may soon be at risk.

No one has been trained to replace the employees leaving because the department has a hiring freeze and budget cuts prevents them from conducting a police academy class.

"I don't want us to get into a situation where we're grossly understaffed and we have to have these big hiring frenzies. I don't think the citizens would be best served if we do that," said Armstrong.

The problem has Memphis Mayor AC Wharton re-evaluating the controversial DROP, Deferred Retirement Option Plan, program.

"We don't have replacements. It simply has not worked and we've got to revamp it," said Wharton.

In the next few years, 145 police employees will be "DROPping": 56 lieutenants, 38 sergeants, 15 civilians, 10 patrol officers, 9 lieutenant colonels, 7 majors, 6 colonels, 3 deputy chiefs and 1 deputy director. 

Drop was supposed to give 25 year city employees a set date to retire, and meanwhile groom the next generation. The program came under scrutiny when former police director, Larry Godwin, received an extra $94,000 a year in pension and interest for each of the three years he was enrolled in DROP. 

"With the DROP program and unplanned retirements, we have a significant portion of our staff that's leaving," said Armstrong.

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