Memphis mayor, police union battle over controversial billboard

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) -- Memphis saw its share of violent crime last year, breaking the 1993 homicide record. In an effort to bring attention to the issue, the Memphis Police Association said it decided to post a new billboard. They read "Welcome to Memphis. 228 homicides in 2016. Down over 500 Police Officers."

Mayor Jim Strickland told WREG the message is misguided.

"It points out a problem. It's easy to point out the problem, it's hard to come up with a solution. And Mike Williams never comes up with a solution."

Williams said the mayor has the wrong idea.

"It's not our job to provide solutions, if Mike Williams didn't provide a solution -- what ever. There still has to be a solution to the problem and he is the mayor, so therefor it is incumbent upon him to provide solutions to these problems even though we have provided him with solutions to these problems."

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Police have complained about being sorely understaffed and underpaid for years, but Mayor Strickland said they need m ore money to fix the issue.

"They say they want the city to grow and prosper and have more money to spend on police officers by quote welcoming people to Memphis with those statistics. Obviously is not a very welcoming message."

The mayor's administration said it is doing all it can to provide good health care while balancing the economic health of the city.

Williams said it's not enough.

"We're so concerned about tourists coming into this city, and how people outside the city perceive us while we have people in this city, dying everyday that live here. Are we not concerned about them?"

Written by Eryn Taylor and Alex Coleman

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