Strict enforcement may be a way to get "Blue Flu" sufferers back on the streets before public safety is compromised. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Memphis City Hall has cracked down on sick leave to try and remedy the "Blue Flu" crisis in response to recent benefit cuts. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC) - Memphis City Hall has cracked down on sick leave to try and remedy the "Blue Flu" crisis in response to recent benefit cuts. But question is, will enforcing what is already on the books really get officers back to work?
In total, 557 officers are off the streets as of Wednesday at 6 a.m. There have been no changes to Memphis Police Department's decision to cancel regular off days and scheduled vacation and a strict enforcement of the department's sick leave policy.
However, it appears some rules have not been strictly enforced. But Tuesday night, a memo put police and other city employees on notice.
In the hall of mayors packed with dozens of detractors. The current mayor reiterated the city's stance saying, "We do not condone what is taking place ... to the degree it's being abused, it will be dealt with."
The so-called "Blue Flu" broke the 550 mark hours before Mayor A C Wharton spoke Tuesday afternoon, meaning that approximately one in four police officers is currently out sick.
The memo, which was sent to all city employees, stated that the current sick leave policy would be strictly enforced. A doctor's note or other proper medical documentation for and extended sick time will be needed. Otherwise, daily calls must be made to the employee's supervisor, and not just one call which has been the practice. In addition, a sick employee must also remain at their so-called convalescent location while out sick, usually their home.
"At the least you may not be paid for the time that you claim you're off sick," Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little said. "There's not the expectation that this policy is the end all be all; it's not the solution."
Strict enforcement may be a way to get Blue Flu sufferers back on the streets before public safety is compromised.
TACT officers, those with OCU and the "COP" program, have all been re-deployed due to the "Blue Flu." City leaders say special details will engage as needed, but the police department's primary duty is responding to crime. At this point, all available officers are being utilized.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong called a special meeting Tuesday to thank those officers who are showing up to work. WMC Action News 5 was the only television station at the exclusive meeting. A lieutenant and two patrolmen from every precinct were in attendance.
Officers who spoke with WMC said Memphis residents are their priorities.
"We're just waiting it out and we're going to do the best and I want the citizens of Memphis to know that you are still being protected, and we are going to work as hard as we can and we appreciate you all for appreciating us," said Lt. Anthony Gardner.
Director Armstrong says he plans to meet with other officers on other shifts as the "Blue Flu" continues to affect MPD staffing levels.
Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.
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