MEMPHIS, TN – After the fatal shooting of Memphis Police Officer Timothy Warren inside the Doubletree Hotel on the 4th of July weekend, the Memphis City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, was emotionally charged.
“They put their lives on the line for us every day,” Councilwoman Janis Fullilove told a chamber filled with people, “so that we can sleep well, so that we can walk the streets and not worry about drug houses.”
More than 100 cops in attendance roared with approval.
Fullilove was not done. Referring to the pay cut of nearly 5-percent in the new city budget, she said, “for the administration to take anything from them, whether it’s a furlough day, or a holiday, or a 4.6 percent pay cut, is absolutely wrong.”
The officers cheered again.
Because of parliamentary procedure, nothing could be done about rescinding that pay cut. But Councilman Joe Brown promised to present a resolution in two weeks to let the cops keep their money.
“Hopefully they’ll discuss it,” Mike Williams of the Memphis Police Association tells abc24.com. “They’ll eventually come to their senses and they’ll give the money back. As the citizens see, we do put our lives on the line. We have not stopped one bit. Yet they want to take 4.6 from us. That’s not fair.”
George Little, Chief Administrative Officer for the city of Memphis, was in attendance. He says the administration will work with the council on this issue, but added a warning about the impact of changing anything in a budget that was approved to solve a $60 million deficit.
“Any changes at this date" Little says, "would certainly have significant impact on the budget and on city operations.”
Members of the police force have a different view of things.
“Evidently crime is on the rise,” Williams tells abc24.com, “and individuals are taking shots at police officers.”
The police are even getting support from Memphis firefighters. One of them read a poem about Officer Warren to the assembled officers in the lobby of city hall.
It read in part: “Even my elected officials call me a drain on the economy. Step forward Officer Warren. You’ve born your burdens well. Come walk a beat on Heaven’s streets, you’ve done your time in Hell.”
Stay with abc24.com for continuing coverage of the budget crisis and the effort to rescind employee pay cuts.