Weekly Update


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You may have seen last week on social media where I was honored to conduct the wedding ceremony of former University of Memphis basketball star Tarik Black and his new bride Kennedy. Tarik was back in town to launch a foundation to help our young people -- and I thanked him for that.

But today, I want to share something more -- a story Tarik’s mother told me last week and is allowing me to share with you:

When Tarik was a kid, about 8 or 9, his family lived across the street from Memphis Police officer Byron Johnson. One day, Officer Johnson knocked on the door. He had seen Tarik playing outside and wondered if he played basketball -- Tarik was already a tall kid, after all.

Officer Johnson coached a basketball team and wanted to give Tarik an opportunity to join that team. Tarik hadn’t yet started to play basketball. His mother said OK. Week after week, Officer Johnson would pick up Tarik and take him to practice. When Tarik would return home, he would go on and on about how much fun they had. His mother knew Officer Johnson was a positive police role model.

Life moved on as it does, of course, and both Officer Johnson and Tarik moved and lost touch. Tarik later became a star basketball player at Ridgeway High, at the University of Memphis and at Kansas University. Last year, he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. His mother recently sought out this officer who was so influential so many years ago, and he and Tarik reunited. Check it out:

Tarik Black and Byron Johnson

The Tarik Black Foundation launched this month and, as part of its programming, is holding a summer basketball camp for young people in our city. At the end of each camp, the foundation plans to honor a police officer who has been a role model in the community they live in or patrol. The name of the award? The Byron Johnson Neighborhood Officer Role Model (NORM) award. The acronym ‘NORM’ is by design, because Tarik and the foundation want this kind of relationship to be the norm in the community.

How great is that? Thank you, Tarik, for doing this. And thank you, Officer Johnson -- who is now a 20-year veteran and Sergeant Johnson -- for reminding us how much positive impact matters in the lives of our young people.

More on our budget proposal: I sent an email earlier this week detailing our 2017-18 budget proposal, which we labeled ‘Stronger Memphis.’ I won’t re-hash too much of that, though I do encourage you to learn about the budget proposal at the special web page we set up for it.

A couple of points I’d like to add:

  • There has been some talk about how non-Police employees, particular Fire employees, are not getting a pay increase in this budget. That’s true -- and not something I’m happy about. It’s just the reality of the hard choices that come with budgeting with little new revenue. We had about $12 million in new revenue this year, and the employee associations requested pay increases totaling $24 million. It should also be noted that Fire employees received three separate pay increases last year totaling 5 percent.
  • You may be curious about the tax rate, which is a complicated thing in a year in which the county Assessor of Property is conducting a re-assessment. We have pledged to support a level property tax rate, which means it will go down in line with the amount overall property values citywide go up. (For example: If property values go up 10 percent, the rate would go down 10 percent to give the city the exact same amount of money as before. That’s state law.) We are working with the state and the Assessor to determine that new rate and will let you know when we do.

I also thought you might be interested in this chart we shared on social media this week explaining just how much more paving your city is doing for you:

Street Paving Chart

Welcome aboard: I was fortunate to be at the ceremony this afternoon when 40 police service technicians (PSTs) graduated from the academy and joined the Memphis Police Department! I hope you’ll join me in welcoming them to service.

PST Graduates

PSTs do important work. They handle traffic incidents and similar issues, and are important ambassadors for our city. But they also help free up our commissioned officers to be more proactive in fighting violent crime. And thanks in part to the Blue Path program we’ve started in conjunction with Southwest Tennessee Community College, we’re building a pipeline from high school to PST to commissioned officer that will help our staffing situation in the long haul.

Our class of commissioned officer recruits -- the largest in seven years -- remains at the academy and will graduate Aug. 11.

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