There are normally 2,520 police officers that patrol Memphis, Tennessee. But lately a strange phenomenon has swept through the ranks of the Protect and Serve force. Since June 30, 552 officers have called in sick.
But all signs are that this is not a legitimate medical emergency. Instead, the Memphis police are staging what is being called a “sick-out”. Akin to a union “walk-out”, or work stoppage, the sick-out is apparently intended as a form of protest against some changes to the contract terms for policemen.
However, the police union insists it is not behind this action. Some call it a “Blue Flu”.
“The police association has not sanctioned nor orchestrated a Blue Flu,” said Michael Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association. “I would characterize it as officers that are stressed out, and they are very concerned about their futures.”
The particular changes the policemen are upset about include some significant alterations to their insurances.
“Part of the problem is that if an officer goes out and gets into an active shooter situation, they’re telling him that he’s not going to be covered, he’s not going to have insurance,” Williams said.
Police Director Toney Armstrong said, “We’re in a crisis mode,” he said. “We’re going to do absolutely everything we have to do to make sure that public safety isn’t compromised.”
Bunch of silly politics "@MrAviator1906: Why the hell ain't Memphis cops going to work?!?!"
— gayle g. (@gayleishere) July 8, 2014
“Right now, they’re juggling and the sheriff’s department has come in and a lot of these guys are working I think 12-hour shifts, different things like that to try to manage and to keep the city safe,” Williams said.
Armstrong says every person who called in sick will have to bring a doctor’s note with them when they return.
My prediction….if more cops keep calling in, Memphis will draft Robocop. I'll buy that for a dollar!
— Chris Sellers (@Salarski) July 8, 2014
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