Thursday, July 3 2014 9:23 AM EDT2014-07-03 13:23:12 GMT
(WMC)- After Memphis police and fire retirees protested outside Memphis City Hall on Tuesday, July 1, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says no matter what, no city retirees will be left behind. "The bottom lineMore >
After Memphis police and fire retirees protested outside Memphis City Hall on Tuesday, July 1, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says no matter what, no city retirees will be left behind.More >
MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC) - Memphis Police Department canceled officers' regular days off and scheduled vacations to handle the sick calls from the so-called "Blue Flu."
As of 8:15 Tuesday morning, there are 552 MPD officers out sick and not on the streets.
MPD Director Toney Armstrong addressed the media about concerns of the demonstration and said public safety has not been compromised. Armstrong asked the media to cut cameras, because it was unclear he was on live television; he then took media's questions to break down the numbers.
The sick calls began June 30; a little more than a dozen were out before that.
On Saturday, police were forced to call in Shelby County deputies to help man Beale Street, which is usually protected by Memphis police officers.
By Sunday, 308 officers had called out sick and police had an emergency meeting with the sheriff. Later in the day Sunday, the mayor and police director held a news conference acknowledging some type of demonstration is underway.
From June 30 to early Monday, 481 officers called out. As of early Monday evening, 522 officers are not at work. As of Tuesday morning, the number of officers out sick stands at 552.
The New Allen police precinct in North Memphis takes the most crime calls in the whole city. Residents there are torn over what has been dubbed the "Blue Flu."
"We're in a catch 22 as citizens because, yes, we want the protection, we need the protection, we deserve the protection, but they need their rights protected, too," said Memphis resident Harriet Stanton.
Others are upset about the effects the "Blue Flu" could have on public safety and because taxpayers could have to pay overtime to the officers who are backing up the officers who called in sick.
"I think they should be fired because it's a responsibility for us that we have to be protected," said Helen Fulp.
But there are also others who think the city employees got a raw deal.
"Let's start up on top. Let's cut the mayor's salary. Let's cut some of his assistant's salaries, then let's cut from some of those making these decisions," said Memphis resident Calvin Harris. "Then, we see where we need to go from there."
WMC Action News 5's Kontji Anthony asked MPD for a breakdown of the precincts that are most affected by the sick calls. The department said it is unable to provide those numbers for safety reasons, but it did confirm the "Blue Flu" is happening in every precinct.
Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams says the sick calls will soon convert to even more officers leaving Memphis.
"When we got hired, we were promised certain things," said Williams. "Now, those things have been reneged on. So, it has a lot of people saying, 'What about my family?'"
On Monday, Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland announced public hearings are scheduled to search for alternatives to the health care cuts.
"Frankly, I hope most of our employees stay because we have a lot of really good employees," said Strickland.
Public input will be welcomed at the next Memphis City Council meeting, which will be held July 15 at 8 a.m.
They were born just two weeks apart. A 10-week-old baby and 8-week-old pit bull have a fascinating relationship. They absolutely adore each other! Louisiana native Brandi Hodges, 25, has posted photosMore >
A 10-week-old baby and 8-week-old Pitbull have a fascinating relationship. They absolutely adore each other!More >
Monday, July 28 2014 2:08 PM EDT2014-07-28 18:08:17 GMT
NWS: Macroburst hit north Phoenix with 100 mph winds
A macroburst with winds in excess of 100 mph hit north Phoenix Saturday night, snapping power poles, toppling trees and cutting power to 33,000 utility customers, the National Weather Service said.More >
Intense macrobursts can cause tornado-force damage of up to F3 intensity, the National Weather Service said after it confirmed the event. The Paradise Valley Hospital sustained rooftop damage.More >
Monday, July 28 2014 1:54 AM EDT2014-07-28 05:54:27 GMT
Authorities now say 14 people - including a 15-year-old - have been struck by lightning during rare summer thunderstorms that have swept through Southern California, injuring two critically.More >
A 20-year-old man died Sunday after lightning struck or rattled 13 people at a popular Los Angeles beach and a golfer on Catalina Island during summer thunderstorms that swept through Southern California, authorities said.More >