MPD Director presents $282 million budget proposal to city council

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings has proposed a $282,107,598 budget to the Memphis City Council for his department next year.

Director Rallings said he admits some types of crime are on the increase but said he needs the money to recruit more officers.

It’s a tough sell as the council must decide the best way to spend tax dollars on a lean budget. Fighting crime doesn’t come cheap, especially as homicides, auto thefts, and carjackings have gone up.

Monday, Rallings told the council budget committee, “the budget that I’m going to present to you today supports the mayor’s number one priority and that is public safety. “

For most of his presentation, Rallings could be heard but not seen as the budget hearing held was virtually.

The police director said he wants to hire more police to reach a complement of 2500 officers. He said with those millions of dollars, MPD can focus on crime reduction, recruitment, community outreach, and gang intervention.

“I ask for your support and for your approval,” Rallings said.

Many councilmembers want to trim the police budget, which only has a 2.6% increase from last year but is still one of the largest city expenditures.

Some councilmembers questioned Rallings about his plans to reduce overtime. The Director told them that over time became necessary after the interstate shootings, and when 300 of his officers were quarantined because of COVID-19.

Some council members on the committee tried to get an assurance out of the police director that if they approve his budget, citizens will be safer. Rallings told them, “We owe that to you. If you approve our budget, we must do everything we can do to reduce violent crime.”

Councilman Worth Morgan on the other hand, made a no apology statement and said MPD needs more money to increase the number of investigators “to be able to provide the resources that allow for better protection to the citizens of Memphis that we represent”.

This budget is symbolic for Rallings because it is the last budget he will present to the council. He retires next April.