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Letter from the Editor

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As nearly every sentient being in Memphis now knows, the City Council last week voted down a proposal by Councilman Reid Hedgepeth to expand residency requirements for new Memphis police officers to anyone living within 20 miles of the Shelby County line. Officers currently are required to live within the county, and the department is at least 200 officers short of its budgeted allotment, so the relaxing of the residency requirement seemed to make sense to many, including a committee of city officials and representatives of FedEx, AutoZone, and other major businesses.

However, a majority of the council — seven members — voted against the proposal, suggesting instead that the department needed to more aggressively seek candidates who live in the city limits — crime rate be damned. It's geography über alles!

Now that the dust has settled, I'm happy to report that the council has apparently started a trend with its vote. Just today, Northwest Airlines announced that it would henceforth only use pilots who live in Shelby County. "We feel that as a Memphis-based hub, it's only right that we hire pilots based on where they live rather than on their skills in piloting an airplane," said company spokesperson Albie Darned.

Picking up on the trend was the Med, which declared Thursday that the company would begin limiting its medical hires to "doctors and nurses who live in the 38103 zip code."

"We are confident we can find plenty of fairly decent physicians and nurses in this zip code. All we have to do is increase and intensify our recruitment efforts," said hospital spokesperson R.U. Kidden. "We may have to lower our medical standards slightly, but the important thing is that our doctors and nurses are committed to living in our neighborhood."

The Memphis Grizzlies also committed to the new business model today. "We are letting go of all our players who are not from the South," said team spokesperson Watt A. Crock. "Sure, it means we replace O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay with a couple of recruits from LeMoyne-Owen and CBU, but what the heck. At least we know they care about our community, and that's the important thing."

Of course, by now you realize I'm making all this up — except for the part about the City Council's decision to make one's ability to live inside Shelby County the primary skill set desired for hiring Memphis police officers. I only wish I were making that part up.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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