MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - After Memphis Police placed a Blue Crush SkyCop in the popular Midtown area, Cooper Young business owners told Memphis Mayor A C Wharton they want real cops, not just machines in their neighborhood.
Business owners requested a meeting with Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong and Mayor Wharton but excluded news cameras, sating it was a private meeting.
Inside the meeting, the owners of Cooper Young businesses had a candid discussion with the police director and mayor about what safety measures they want for their community.
Despite the recent attempted robbery at Young Avenue Deli that left one man was shot, the city claims crime is down more than 10 percent in the Cooper Young area. Business owners want cameras and more cops.
"When you have a pistol in the face of a patron outside your business, you can't run out at that patron and say 'Don't worry, we had an 11 percent decrease [in crime] last year,'" Wharton said. "That doesn't register with anybody and they wanted to make sure that we realize this is a challenge, and that we have to do something about it and we're going to do it."
Businesses want more officers on patrol and the Cooper Young police precinct re-opened, but Armstrong doesn't have enough manpower to support the request.
"Due to budgetary constraints we haven't been able to consistently put classes on that we have in years past, and we're starting to feel it now," Armstrong told abc24.com.
Wharton added, "We are 80 officers down from what the full compliment ought to be. We talk in terms of how can we come up with a funding source that will allow us to get the police force up to a full compliment so we can focus more attention on our entertainment districts."
The mayor will have the full list of requests from businesses by Monday, Jan. 9th. He will evaluate them and meet with Cooper Young business owners again in two weeks.