FOX13 Investigates: MPD homicide detectives overworked?

by: Greg Coy Updated:

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Less than five months into 2016, there have been 82 homicides in Memphis. So far 55 of the cases have been solved, but that comes with a hefty cost as detectives burn through hours of overtime.

“When a homicide occurs, they hit the ground and they don't stop running until they have exhausted all their leads,” Interim Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings told FOX13.

>> RELATED: 2016 homicide list as of May 11

FOX 13 Investigates filed an open records request with the City of Memphis and obtained the overtime numbers for homicide investigations.  We found the cost has been more than $135,000 so far this year.

If the trend continues, the spiking murder rate will cost tax payers more than $500,000 in overtime costs. That is more than twice the amount the city spent in 2014, and close to $170,000 more than was spent last year.  

"We don't want it to be a half million dollars for overtime for homicide investigators,” City Councilman Worth Morgan, who is the chairman of the Council Public Safety Committee, told FOX13. “But if that is what it takes and that is what we need, that is what we are going to do.”

Interim Director Rallings the homicide team is made up of 19 investigators, and he is concerned about detectives burning out.

"It just makes common sense. If you worked 24 hours within a period of time, you and your cameraman would be burned out,” Rallings said. “If they need to tap out, you say ‘you know what, y'all been working too much, go home and get some rest.’”

Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams told FOX13 homicide detectives have not complained to him about the hours.

“"It is definitely money well spent. However, I will also say there comes a time when you start to burn people out,” Williams said.

Williams believes many of the homicide detectives are young and are getting a chance to prove their metal. But without guidance from veterans who have retired, the quality of the investigations will suffer.

"They actually have a 70 percent solve rate, I believe,” Williams said. “But I will tell you in the past, they had a 90 percent solve rate. So if in fact you want to say that they have fallen off a little bit, I will tell you that they have.”

Interim Director Rallings recently told a city council budget committee the homicide unit will expand as officers get promoted. It is a solution that will take time, but will hopefully help bring the crime scene tape down.