MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Criminal Justice is one of the largest departments on the University of Memphis campus, and the battle between the Memphis Police Association and the City of Memphis has made its way into the classroom.
Dr. K.B. Turner, University of Memphis Criminology Professor, says his students don't get into law enforcement for the pay, "This is not an occupation where you'll get wealthy." But they do hope for a level of respect. "Police do in fact put their lives on the line on a daily basis and they deserve a premium for what they do," he says, "We just tend to disagree on what is that premium."
It's a lesson University of Memphis students are seeing played out in real life. Memphis Police Association representatives walked out of a meeting with Memphis City Administrators on Friday. The MPA president, Mike Williams, says the city is dictating a contract instead of negotiating one. "You took money from them," Williams says, "You're taking benefits from them, you're jacking their insurance up, they're more concerned right now with what's going on with them, than saving your life."
Turner says, "Students do in fact think about these things and it is incumbent upon us as professors to share with them realities of police work, the good, the not so good, as well as the bad."
The bad could get even worse. If a contract isn't in place by the end of June, it could open the door for a police strike. City Administrators say there's no reason to worry, there's still plenty of time to get a contract in place. Police are prepared to stand their ground.
Turner says the real life drama is a valuable lesson for his students. "There's a reality to police work and it's not always going to be glamorous," Turner says, "it's not always going to be the way it appears in movies."