Weekly Update: Taking action against violent crime


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Like every other Memphian, my heart sank at today’s news about our record number of homicides in a single year. And that reaction was not simply at the news itself -- but at the thought that these are individual Memphians who won’t be coming home. We must remember that throughout all of this, we should be grieving.

But it is also on us at city government to be acting. And I want to remind you what we’re doing to fight not just this crime but all crime:

  1. We are actively working to recruit and retain police officers. We’ve addressed pay and benefits concerns with officers, and we are committed to additional steps to better compensate them. We’ve aggressively recruited more than 2,000 applicants to join our police department. We need more officers, and we’re getting there.
  2. We need stiffer penalties for violent crimes. (In the most recent legislative session, in fact, we successfully lobbied for a tougher domestic violence law.) You’ll see more of my support for those efforts in our upcoming legislative agenda.
  3. We need to intervene in the lives of more young people. We got off to a solid start in 2016, but we know we must continue to ramp up. We’re close to securing more partnerships and the ability to help more young people choose the right path.

Those items are significant parts of the anti-crime plan on which I ran for mayor. And we're full partners in the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission's most recent Operation: Safe Community plan.

We’ve had effectively the same number of serious crimes committed this year than in 2015. Yet our homicide rate has taken this tragic, shameful spike. It is the crime that the police are least able to control. It is on all of us, in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our churches, to do better. To resolve conflict better. To make choices that preserve life.

As mayor, I think it’s important to be calm and diplomatic. But on this issue, today, I can’t. As I told Fox 13 when I appeared on their live show this morning, I’m angry. I’m mad. I’m furious for our city. That’s why I want to say this: If you are a criminal, if you intend to do harm, Michael Rallings and our police department are coming after you.

I hear often from people who live in our neighborhoods who are tired of not feeling safe. They deserve better. And that’s why we’ve spent so much of our first year in office taking real steps to fight crime.

Memphis has too much momentum, too much good, too many amazing people, for this to be our norm.

Excited for St. Jude: Speaking of that momentum, it was an honor to be at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital yesterday to announce our partnership with the State of Tennessee to fund public infrastructure improvements to aid the hospital’s important expansion plans.

Our $25 million investment, coupled with $12 million from the state, will improve the Pinch District and enable growth there. Even better, our $25 million is from the Tourism Development Zone, so no property tax dollars are paying for this.

As I told the audience yesterday, this is what we mean when we say we’re committed to solid core services -- committed to being brilliant at the basics. When we do our part, like using a fiscally responsible path to improve infrastructure, it enables the private sector to do its part.

Committing to core services gets results.

A good reminder: We feel for our friends in Gatlinburg, who have recently endured major fires. It has spurred us, along with Shelby County, to proactively review our emergency notification system to make sure we’re ready if, God forbid, disaster strikes here.

In the meantime, you can do two things to prepare: 1) go into your smartphone settings and make sure emergency notifications are enabled, and 2) review the preparedness tips at Ready TN.

See you tomorrow: We'll be celebrating the great accomplishments of our young people Saturday morning when we gather for a parade and program honoring our four high school state championship football teams: East, Lausanne, Trezevant, and Whitehaven.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. at the Shelby County Schools offices at 160 S. Hollywood, with the program to follow at around 10:45 a.m. at Tiger Lane. See you there!


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