Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update

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If you saw or read any of my recent interviews about crime in Memphis, you probably heard me say the word “unacceptable.” This isn’t just a word I use as a crutch: It’s precisely how I feel about the level of crime in our city.

Simply put, I will not accept this as the norm as your mayor.

I probably don’t have to tell you that we’ve had 30 criminal homicides to date in 2016, about double what we had at this point last year. And in the spirit of being completely open, honest and transparent about our crime issue, here are more stats:

  • Part 1 crimes in the first 42 days of 2016 compared to the first 42 days of 2015 are up ever so slightly -- 0.76 percent. Part 1 crimes include criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson.
  • Part 1 crimes in the past 28 days -- from Jan. 15 through this morning -- are up 1.97 percent when compared to the same window of time in 2015.
  • Part 1 crimes in the past 365 days -- from Feb. 12, 2015 through this morning -- are down 4.35 percent when compared to the same 2014-15 window of time.

I share these stats in the interest of transparency, so that you have the same information I have. But I also know that no statistic matters to someone grieving a loved one. And no statistic matters if you don’t feel safe.

Interim Police Director Michael Rallings and I talk routinely about fighting crime in our city. He is working day and night to attack it from all angles.

Here are some action items I can share from the mayor’s office:

  • I’ve authorized Director Rallings to do whatever he needs in arranging his staffing to make sure there as many police officers on the streets as possible.
  • Our search for a permanent police director is moving forward. We’re about to sign a contract for a firm to help us identify the best possible candidates. We should be in a position to appoint a permanent police director by summer.
  • We’re working daily to retain our talented officers, and we’re also working on a campaign to recruit more officers. As of today, we have 2,063 police officers, down from about 2,450 at our peak in November 2011. I am committed to building back toward that peak.

Knowing that fighting crime is not just an issue of what we’re doing on the streets today, please understand that my administration is committed to -- and is already working on -- combatting poverty and intervening in the lives of young people. We won’t solve this issue overnight. But we will make a difference in time, so long as every Memphian is committed to the same goal.

And while it may not always be pleasant, we will not shy away from our crime problem. We will continue to use forums like this one to talk about it. We will continue to engage the media on it, like these stories from this week alone: NewsChannel 3, Fox 13, Local 24. We want you to be informed.

But we also want to let the criminals know, through our words and our actions, that these are not their streets. These are our streets. And everyone should know that city government, from my office to every man and woman on patrol, is laser-focused on keeping our streets safe.


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