Mayor Wharton: 'We will do anything to keep Memphis safe' - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Mayor Wharton: 'We will do anything to keep Memphis safe'

Dozens of MPD and MFD members are at Memphis City Hall as the mayor talks to the media.  (Source: WMC Action News 5) Dozens of MPD and MFD members are at Memphis City Hall as the mayor talks to the media. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Chief Administrative Officer George Little held a news conference Tuesday. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Chief Administrative Officer George Little held a news conference Tuesday. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Chief Administrative Officer George Little held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to address the abuse of sick leave within Memphis Police Department. The abuse of sick leave is now known as "Blue Flu."

Wharton says the city has not been compromised as a result of the sick calls, but it is unfair to the employees who are showing up for work.

"It is putting pressure. It is extraneous," said Wharton. "I will not put a particular label on it, but it is not a desirable situation."

When it comes to the safety for City of Memphis residents, the mayor said they will do anything.

"We are not ruling anything out," he added. "I do not believe in throwing down the gauntlet. I believe in keeping communication open, but at the same time we have the wherewithal to do whatever it takes, and will do whatever it takes to keep this city safe. Point blank, we will do whatever it takes. Safety is first."

When asked what will happen to the officers who have already called in sick as part of the "Blue Flu" protest, Wharton responded, "Corrective action, if necessary, will be taken."

Dozens of Memphis Police Department and Memphis Fire Department employees showed up at the news conference holding signs in protest of the benefit cuts. They asked their own questions of the administration.

Citizen: Do you understand how much money they [retirees] make on that? Have you looked at the numbers?

Quintin Robinson, City of Memphis Human Resources Director: We, we, we...

Citizen: That was yes or no.

Robinson: We do know him much our retires make in city pensions.

Citizen: How much is it?

Protesters say retirees are being left behind. The city says of the 4,000 people in the pension, the 1,100 on Medicare will still be covered. But protesters told the administration it is out of touch with the real cost.

Citizen: Y'all don't mind throwing him to the wolves.

George Little, Memphis CAO: Your dad's covered.

Citizen: Be a use he needs to come up ...

Mayor Wharton: He's covered. He's covered.

Citizen: You're telling me he needs to come up with an answer.

Mayor Wharton: No he's covered.

Second Citizen: He can't afford it. That's the problem.

Another concerned citizen who attended the news conference asked, "With the police officers, firefighters, paramedic firefighters that are actually leaving and seeking other jobs in other cities, what happens when the numbers that we have of police officers that [call out] sick becomes the number of police officers that are gone?"

To which the mayor responded, "That is a legitimate concern, and this is why we want to work through it, you won't hear me say, 'I don't take that attitude.' That concerns me, that's a legitimate concern. That's it."

The mayor says the city had other plans but nobody liked those either. That comment drew jeers from the crowd.

As for sick leave, the mayor says the policy will be much more strictly enforced until this situation is over.

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly