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More Than 300 Tenn. Police Officers Call In Sick

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File photo of a police officer. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

File photo of a police officer. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Memphis, Tenn. (CBS Charlotte) – More than 300 Memphis police officers, or 10 percent of the force, have called in sick in the past week, reports WREG-TV.

It is believed that the officers are calling in sick to protest next year’s budget, which increases health coverage cost and eliminates a subsidy for retirees in order to pay for the unfunded pension.

This change in benefits affects all city employees.

“We have a responsibility to provide public safety,” Police Director Toney Armstrong told WREG. “It has been challenging to fill all of our staffing levels, but as this point, no citizens are at risk.”

Armstrong has a plan in place, and told the station that those who called in sick could face disciplinary action, including termination.

Armstrong has approved overtime, forced Organized Crime Unit and TACT unit officers to patrol the streets, and asked the county for help.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office sent deputies to patrol the streets over the holiday weekend.

Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham says he will continue to help the Memphis Police Department as needed, and that the county’s safety is not affected because they have called upon their volunteer, reserve deputies.

“Public safety is of the utmost importance to all, and we will continue to support the Memphis Police Department to ensure that it is not compromised,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement obtained by the station.

Neighbors say crime is a problem and city officials are calling this the ‘Blue Flu.’

We need the police force, because there are too many dangers,” Anner Sanders, a resident of North Memphis, told WREG.

WREG reported that only two officers showed up to work on Sunday.

The city council’s personal committee plans to hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss alternate ways to pay off the pension, even though the city voted against revisiting the budget at last week’s meeting.

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