Memphis police seek to add 300 officers

By: - February 15, 2022 8:05 pm
A police car blocks entrance to the Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River in Memphis after a substantial crack was found in it May 11. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht)

Memphis Police vehicles. (Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht )

With Memphis facing a police shortage, the Memphis Police Department is changing their recruitment process to attract more officers to the field. 

As rates of violent crime rose nationwide amid the pandemic, Memphis was no exception. In 2020, there were more than 44,000 crimes reported across the city, with Appling Farm Station in Cordova accounting for the most reports.

By 2021, reported crime had decreased by 3.32%, and violent crime decreased by 5% between 2021 and 2022 due to strategic police work, said Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis. Strategies included placing police officers in “hot spots”—geographic areas with concentrated crime— seven days a week, partnering with the Tennessee Highway Patrol for traffic enforcement and disrupting “chop shops” involved in selling stolen vehicles. 

Despite the progress, the department has less than 2,000 officers in Memphis, prompting officials to look outside the city for recruitments by removing a requirement to reside in Memphis. 

Tuesday, a state House committee approved a ban on residency requirements for police officers and firefighters.

On Feb. 26, the department is organizing several job fairs and classes in an effort to recruit 300 new police officers and streamline processes by removing barriers. As soon as a prospect passes a background check, he or she will be hired immediately, said Assistant Chief Shawn Jones.  The current process requires prospects to wait until a training class opens before getting a job offer, with waits of up to six months.

“When that individual comes to the job fair, have them ready to test and have them also ready to do a physical awareness test. We don’t call it physical agility anymore because that has a tendency to eliminate applicants that we otherwise could get through our process in a six month period,” said Davis. 

“Most of the changes that we made are to help applicants to be more aware of the process they’re about to go into,” she added. 

The department is also hiring retired officers and out of state applicants, who will be required to move to Memphis.

Through a partnership with Deloitte 360 Recruiting, MPD officials will also be able to send targeted communication to anyone interested in becoming a police officer.

“We already know there’s an interest so we’re gonna to pull in as many of them as we can to get to that 300 number,” said Jones.


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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.