MEMPHIS, TN--The murder of a police officer can send a city into shock. It's true. Ask the people in West Memphis, or Topeka, Kansas, or right here in Memphis. People are still in shock dealing with the shooting death of Officer Martoiya Lang. She and other officers were entering what they thought was a drug house. They knew there was the possibility of trouble.
"The TACT unit was requested to go on that call, " says Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams, "because they knew it was a high risk call. But because there was no overtime money to be paid, they had to go without the TACT squad."
The result, a good cop, who just also happened to be a mother of four children, was shot and killed. Another officer was wounded. It didn't have to happen that way, and might have been all averted, says Mike Williams.
"And this is not the only time this has happened," Williams says. "The TACT squad has been requested to assist on high risk entries before, but because there are no tax dollars, there are no overtime funds because the budget has been cut so much."
Memphis City Council budgdet chief Jim Strickland hadn't heard anything about the lack of overtime money preventing police from using the TACT squad. It comes as a surprise to him, especially since he and other city council members were ready to hand over a lot of money to police just last month.
"At least two times in November," Strickland says, "I brought up giving police extra overtime money. In fact, I was begging the police department to please, take the money...we will give it to you. And the police department at that point said they did not need it."
Memphis City Chief Administrative Officer George Little says overtime has been discussed before.
"Director Armstrong has been authorized to run such overtime projects as is needed," Little says, "...for their enforcement activities. I know he and his command staff have developed plans that, in their opinion, are adequate to meet the needs."
Little says he doesn't know if overtime was an issue last Friday, and doesn't think he'll be able to find out.
"Without actually seeing the data. I doubt it will have that particular level of detail that we can ever get to a definitive answer on that."