Thursday, September 22, 2005

Perhaps MPD Just Needs Good Old-Fashioned Customer Service Training

God bless every member of the Memphis Police Department, because they see things we can’t imagine and face risks that we’d never accept.

But there are times that they do things that just defy plain common sense. And for once, we’re not talking about their inability to stop the apparent right to beg for a living that exists in downtown Memphis.

No, this time, we’re just talking about a few other things that just don’t make sense.

First, now that we’ve paid for yet another iteration of Court Square, and it’s pristine and inviting, would it be possible for police cars to be banned from the driving in it? Yes, believe it or not, rather than get out of their cars and walk through the park to make sure nothing’s going on, police officers actually drive their cars up the sidewalk to the front of the pavilion and then depart by driving out another sidewalk.

It’s reminiscent of the days when the pristine condition of the trolley route was the stuff of bragging rights for downtowners. But within weeks, every inlaid square of stone put there for aesthetic purposes bore the multiple cracks caused by police cars driven up and down the trolley track route. And they are still there, a constant message that we are a city that doesn’t sweat the small stuff, like the attention to detail and design that make a city most livable.

Second, if police officers on horseback need to engage in some memorial ritual each day by meeting at the “young Elvis” statue on Beale Street, that’s fine. But is it too much to ask for them to clean up the horse manure that absolutely reeks in the 90 degree heat? Perhaps, in a display of their entrepreneurial spirit, they can create an offshoot of the “Zoo Doo” franchise, perhaps, "Blue Doo," but whatever they do, it would be thoughtful if they would remove the piles of manure that greet visitors to our city’s most important tourism destination – Beale Street.

Third, if police officers are providing security and directing cars after Orpheum Theater plays, that’s a good thing. But it would be even better public relations if the officers weren’t lounging across cars as the crowds depart the theater.

But even more importantly, when you walk out after paying $75 for a ticket to see a play, it has a tendency to spoil the entire evening when policemen on horseback are on the sidewalk outside the theater. Rushing to cars last week, patrons ran headlong into the south end of a downtown precinct horse. Worse yet, it was the south end of a downtown precinct horse actively engaged in defecating on the sidewalk in front of the Orpheum as the play ended.

There’s the old joke that if you can get to the head of any downtown traffic jam, you’ll always find a Memphis policeman. While the routing of traffic and traffic control after events frequently defy explanation, there’s really no excuse for just plain thoughtlessness.

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