Memphis, TN - The latest class of 150 rookies for the Memphis Police Department may not be ready for the real world when they graduate, according to Local Memphis.
Questions are being raised about treatment of new recruits for the Memphis Police Academy, with accusations that they are being treated with 'kid gloves' in one of the most violent cities in the nation.
On their first day at the academy, they were treated to lunch at the Rendezvous, according to Mike Williams, Memphis Police Association president.
He said, "They're parading these guys around like look a hundred guys, and they're just having a great wonderful time. With all the power brokers there. They had recruits at each table and a power player at each table."
During the lunch, they heard speeches from Academy Director Mike Rallings and Mayor Jim Strickland. A spokesman for the mayor's office said that they did not pay for lunch, and that it was paid for by a group called the 'Retired Carnival Kings.' He said that the lunch has happened in the past with new recruits, but several veteran officers disagreed.
Mike Matthews, reporter for Local Memphis, wrote that two officers had been transferred from the academy after rookies complained that they were too tough. Recruits are also believed to have filed complaints about 'unfair treatment' with the City's Human Resources or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Williams said, "It's been pretty much stated or assumed. It's hands off these guys, we don't want to lose them." The Police Department is severely understaffed, with the total number of officers expected to drop below 1900 'sometime this fall.'
A military boot camp style academy may not be the best for police officers. As officer need to learn massive amounts of information on criminal law, case law, civil rights, and more, placing them in an overly stressful environment is detrimental to learning.
However, there still needs to be a balance. If officers aren't trained to deal with stress in a controlled environment, there's no telling how they will react out on the street.
Mike Williams said that what's going on with the recruits isn't going to help them, now or in the future. "If you baby them in the academy like this. I am very interested to see what's going to happen when they actually hit the streets."
Williams himself went through Army boot camp, and then through the police academy. He said that both were tough, and for a reason, to give recruits an idea of what to expect on the streets.
The MPA president has said that he is aware that some recruits have complained. He said that, "If you think you're being discriminated against now. Wait until you're out in the field, and somebody calls you a honkey, or a n**or they talk about your Momma, or your children, or they talk about killing you, or all kinds of things."
"You've got to be able to function under those pressures," he added.
Rallings had no comment for Local Memphis. Strickland's office released a statement in response, which said, "Being a police officer is a tough job. If our current class of recruits graduates, they will have earned the right to wear the uniform. Any complaint from a recruit or any employee will be taken seriously and investigated. If any issue is discovered, the city will take corrective action."