September 7, 2014
Internet Article Analysis
Tax payers and civilians are not the only people who go through financial obstacles. Agencies who receive those tax dollars struggle with budgeting issues as well, even agencies and administrations within the criminal justice system. The Memphis Police Department, for example, came to face with a financial issue just this past summer, which left a lot of Memphis city police officers to call off from work with a bad case of the “blue flu”.
The whole thing started on May 28, 2014 when Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the Pension Reform Law. For those who do not know, a pension is; “A regular payment made during a person’s retirement from an investment fund to which that person or their employer has contributed during their working life” (“Pension”, 2014, paragraph 1). To protect the government employees’ pensions, the new law requires all local government entities to make their yearly payments in full (Sells, 2014). For the state of Tennessee, the yearly payment should be $78 million. “The Public Employee Defined Benefit Financial Security Act of 2014 gives a six year ramp up period for local governments like Memphis that have not been making the full, annual payments” (Sells, 2014, paragraph 3). After the six years is up, if the local government has not paid their required annual amount, then the state will be forced to use money that it normally provides to them for other things, to make those required payments (Sells, 2014). Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris stated that if local governments promise their employees pensions when they are hired, then those promises need to be kept. He also mentioned that this new law was a good thing because it will ensure that local government pension plans would not run of money. If, for example they did run out of money for pensions, then state taxes would have to increase in order to cover the default (Sells, 2014).
Being that Memphis was so far behind on their yearly payment, they had to cut funds from somewhere in order to catch up. On June 30, 2014, the city council voted to reduce health care benefits for both current and retired Memphis City Police department employees. That decision led a total of 308 Memphis Police Officers to call out sick in that one week, with the “blue flu”, which was their way of protesting against the city council decision. 308 police officers are almost fourteen percent of the entire department. The situation had gotten so bad that the Memphis Police department had to ask the Shelby County Sheriff’s department for help with covering shifts (Callahan, 2014). About 60 deputies went to help, but that was not enough. Along with help from the sheriff’s department, a lot of police officers had to put in overtime to cover the remaining shifts. To make matters worse, out of the 308 police officers who called in sick, some of them did it more than once. Memphis Chief of Police, Tony Armstrong, stated that he understands what the…