The Memphis Police Department is going all-in when it comes to the hiring a public relations firm to attract new officers.
Just this week, the city finalized a contract to spend $400,000 in advertising to public relations firm Kelley & Associates out of Bartlett. The idea is to blitz the local and regional areas with ads, but not everyone is convinced this is what’s needed.
MPD did not return calls for comment, and Kelley & Associates sent a statement that reads “we look forward to performing the important work of strengthening the image and interest for a rewarding law enforcement career right here in Memphis.”
Mike Williams, the president of the Memphis Police Association, thinks the money could be better spent.
“I don't want to knock their efforts in trying to do that, other than saying you're putting the cart before the horse,” Williams told FOX13.
Williams said pension benefits, not ads, will attract the best officers to Memphis.
“If you are not providing packages that are commensurate or comparable to other cities, than it’s not going to really matter,” Williams said of the recruitment plan.
Our request for the contract has not been granted at this time.
We did learn the proposal wants to use the slogan “the greatest career in law enforcement.” It calls for online, radio and TV ads, local and regional recruitment and a barrage of ads in local print and at bus stops.
MPD said they try to recruit 200 new officers a year between two classes. 56 people started the last recruitment class, and only 41 graduated.
Mayor Jim Strickland met Williams’ thoughts with a statement to FOX13 that reads “it’s a priority for our mayor and the administration to keep the officers that we have, and bring new officers to the force. We have seen in the past, that an aggressive ad campaign works in recruiting. Eight years ago we had roughly 2000 officers. We did an ad campaign and it brought our numbers up to around 2300. The mayor and his staff are also looking at ways to better compensate our officers.”
The deal with Kelley & Associates is for one year with the option to renew for two more.
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