A public safety task force will meet over the coming weeks to discuss ways to recruit and retain Memphis police officers and firefighters. The group met on Thursday afternoon at Memphis City Hall to outline challenges in staffing both departments.
Alexandria Smith, the city's chief human resources officer, shared results of a survey of police and fire employees that found the departments are suffering from morale issues and are failing to recruit officers fast enough to fill the attrition gaps. Smith said police and fire staffing is her number-one priority.
Police and fire employees reported in the survey that they were happy with the city's tuition reimbursement and college incentive pay, but they were unhappy with retirement and pension benefits.
Members of the task force reported that at least nine cities have been recruiting officers and firefighters from Memphis, causing many of the best potential employees to leave after only a short time working for the city of Memphis. Much of the conversation centered around both attracting and retaining millennials, who some task force members said were more likely to get their training in Memphis and seek other jobs elsewhere.
The task force will look at benefits and health insurance options, career development opportunities, and streamlining the promotions process. A study is underway that compares compensation and benefits offered in Memphis with the other cities recruiting officers away from Memphis.
They'll meet again at Memphis City Hall at 3 p.m. to discuss pension benefits and their effect on retention and recruitment.