Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update -- Making Progress on 911

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We spoke at length in our budget proposal to the City Council Tuesday about defining exactly what we mean when we say “brilliant at the basics.” But we know that big words mean little without results.

So here we are today with a promising early trend.

Remember our 911 issues? We’re making some headway. In March, the percentage of calls we answered within 20 seconds rose above 68 percent -- an improvement of 15 percentage points just since New Year’s Day. That’s double the performance of last July, when performance was under 34 percent.

Our goal is 95 percent. And if it seems odd to you to be proud of a number that’s almost 30 percentage points below a goal, I understand. But it is progress -- significant progress, really -- in an area that’s so vitally important.

More help is on the way, too. We’ve told you that we’re hiring 30 new part-time call-takers, and the first wave of them will begin work May 16. An additional 20 full-time dispatchers will begin work in January, too.

This is just a small snapshot, of course, and progress must continue. But I share it today because of a promise I made: To measure results, share those results, and hold city officials accountable for them.

We’re doing that every day at City Hall, mining data to tell the story of how we’re delivering services. And while the truth is that it will take many months and years to fully improve the comprehensive level of service we deliver to you, we wanted in the meantime to share with you our progress on 911.

Learn more: Speaking of that budget proposal, you can learn more at And if you’d simply like to read over my prepared remarks to the City Council, click here.

Believe me, I know how complicated budgets can be. That’s why our city Communications office invested time in explaining things on the web page I linked above. I encourage you to take some time to understand, with context, why we’re proposing what we’re proposing.

Vitally important: Many of you know that I was a vocal proponent of the sales tax referendum a few years ago that would have funded pre-Kindergarten. And even though that did not pass, I have continued to advocate for early childhood education in whatever venue I can, and support those who are doing great work there.

So on Thursday, I was proud to be part of the announcement of the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Plan. It’s a coordinated, dedicated effort to improve reading levels by third grade. Earlier this month, I convened many of these same partners in a meeting in my office to explore ways city government can support these efforts, and I’m looking forward to seeing results.

I’m happy to report that this summer, we’ll be working with partners to pilot a literacy program in the summer camps that are held at seven of our community centers. It’s all part of an effort to reduce the “summer slide,” where students lose reading skills over the summer.

Rest in peace, Lieutenant Eddins: This morning, I was humbled to speak briefly at the funeral of Memphis Fire Lieutenant Rodney Eddins, who passed away last weekend while on duty. For 30 years, Lt. Eddins did the quiet work of serving our fellow citizens every day -- running into the buildings others were running out of, working the long hours no one enjoyed, doing the service that’s the backbone of what makes ours a great city.

Let us not forget that. And let us not forget Lt. Eddins, and all of our men and women who serve our city every day.


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