Willie Herenton, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, recently urged the city council to allow the hiring of 650 more police officers. In order to do that, Herenton suggested that the city loosen some of the requirements in place for applicants. Currently, a person applying for a police recruit position must be 21 years old and have 54 semester hours of college or active military experience. If a person does not meet the age or college requirements they can apply for the position of PST (Police Service Technician). Additionally, applicants for both police and PST positions must live within the Memphis city limits.
One of the changes the mayor has proposed to increase the applicant pool involves this residency policy. Instead of requiring residency within the city limits of Memphis, the mayor wishes to extend this to all of Shelby County, Tennessee. It is believed that, by requiring applicants to live in Memphis, people living in suburban areas will not apply because they will not want to move into the city. Currently, applicants have six months from their date of hire to move into the city limits.
Another proposal of the mayor intended to increase the number of police applicants is a reduction or elimination of the college hour requirement. Applicants currently need 54 semester ours of college credit or active military. Without the college hours, applicants will have to take the position of Police Service Technician (PST). PSTs are not police officers, but they do work for the police department. PSTs handle traffic related matters. They handle many traffic accidents in the city and also direct traffic, especially downtown during big event. They are the people that wear tan colored uniforms and drive white vehicles with orange lights.
In addition to working full time, PSTs must also attend college. The PST position is a temporary position that only lasts a maximum of three years. After three years, PSTs should have 54 semester hours. If not, the PST no longer has a job. Once the 54 hours are achieved, regardless of how little time it takes, the PST is able to complete the training to become a police officer.
With these proposed changes questions have been asked as to how qualified these applicants will be to take on the role of police officer. There are a few things that will not change. Applicants will still have the same standards for background investigations. They will also still be required to pass all health, ability, and psychological tests.
Whether or not the city council will approve these changes is unknown. One thing is for sure. Memphis, Tennessee is now the number two city in crime in the entire United States. Memphis can use all of the police it can get.