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Police shortage in the city of Memphis has residents concerned

Police shortage in the city of Memphis has residents concerned (photo by Kendra Hall ABC 7).

A police shortage in the City of Memphis has some residents concerned. In Monday's city council meeting the issue was discussed.

The shortage is due to a lack of pay. Memphis Police Chief Chris Jolly says that come December, he is going to be the only officer.

"Right now with two of us working, we're rotating every 24 hours," said Jolly. "Once he leaves, it's me 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

He says that top officer pay is less than $31,000 with no overtime pay. Other cities the size of Memphis pay higher. Jolly says the city of Shamrock pays officers $34,000 to $37,000 starting out.

He believes he can't keep officers because of the low pay.

"It's very frustrating. I've been here for 8.9 years and I've gone through 21 officers in almost 9 years," Jolly said.

He says it is not safe. There were several residents in Monday's meeting who addressed their concerns as well.

The mayor and city council discussed the options. The mayor says the majority of the budget right now is going to city maintenance. He said he is concerned as well, but does not know the answer to the problem because they do not have any extra money in the budget.

"According to the FBI standards, population 1,000 to 1,499, there are supposed to be 2.6 officers per thousand residents, which should give Memphis a total of six officers," said Jolly. "Even with four officers counting myself, the city cannot be covered 24 hours a day."

Jolly says he has reached out to every police academy in the state and once applicants hear the pay, they decline. Residents threw out options like grants, property tax revenue and raised utility rates.

"October we saw upwards of 300 calls," said Jenny Jolly, resident in Memphis. "December 18, that's going to be him. That's going to be one man taking 300 calls."

"We may be small town, but we're getting big town crime now. And something has to change," said Chief Jolly.

The chief, two city council members and the mayor are meeting Thursday to go through the options. Then they will schedule a special meeting to come to a decision.

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