Weekly Update


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As we continue our work to restore the staffing levels of the Memphis Police Department, it’s important for all of us to understand why we do it -- and why it is such a critical issue for the health of our city.

Our force is down more than 500 officers from its peak. The amount of money we spend on overtime to properly staff our city is simply unsustainable. It's not a good use of your tax dollars in the long run. It’s also not a fair long-term approach for our officers, who are working long hours in a job we all know is tough.

Our staffing also has an impact on the level of violent crime. To clearly show this to you, here's a chart comparing our police staffing levels and violent crime rates each year since 2006 -- the recent high-water mark for crime and about when we started hiring more officers. I think you’ll find the correlation stunning:

Crime Officer Comparison

We know that officers aren’t the only reason for crime fluctuation. We know that restoring officer count won’t simply end crime. That's why we work so hard on the other parts of our crime plan, such as youth programming and reducing recidivism.

But the officer count certainly has an impact.

That’s why we’re so focused on our multi-year plan to rebuild MPD staffing, which is already off to a strong start. Our largest recruit class in seven years is currently at the academy and set to graduate on Aug. 11. Another large class is planned to start in September. When that class graduates in January, we’re looking at the first net increase of officers for MPD since 2011.

No matter where I go in our city, I hear the same thing: Crime is your biggest concern. It’s mine, too. But I also want you to know that we are not shying away from this community-wide challenge. We are meeting it head on.

To learn more about all we’re doing to fight crime, click here.

Expunging more records: Thanks to an amazing $25,000 challenge grant from the Speer Charitable Trust, our Better Memphis Fund will grow and we can change more lives. We’ll hold a fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 5 at Hattiloo Theatre, where your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000. Plus, the expungement fee has fallen, allowing our money to go farther.

Why is this important? Often, a mistake in someone’s past limits their future. That can turn someone who wants to rebuild their life back toward the mistakes that got them in this situation in the first place. When that happens, we all lose.

I hope to see you June 5. If you can’t make it, you can donate online here.

Meeting with the AG: On Thursday, I was part of a group of local elected officials and law enforcement leaders who met with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at his invitation.

Along with Director Michael Rallings of MPD, we were frank with Mr. Sessions about our challenges. We took the opportunity of the meeting to request additional federal resources to help us reduce violent crime. We asked for continued and expanded grant funding, additional agents to join our Multi-Agency Gang Unit and Organized Crime Unit, and to continue with the collaborative review of MPD.

Beale Street Bucks: Working closely with our city attorney’s office, we’re studying the impact of and our response to the City Council’s 6-5 vote this week to lower the cost of Beale Street Bucks. This will risk public safety and cost taxpayers money -- no question about it. All options -- including a veto -- are on the table.

The Beale Street Bucks program is a proven solution for a challenge, and other methods have failed to work. It allows us to focus limited police resources in your neighborhood, and not Downtown. We need Beale Street Bucks.

Memorial Day weekend: Monday is Memorial Day, so I ask you to take some time to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made so that we can enjoy our way of life.

City services will be impacted. If your garbage and recycling pickup day is Monday and you’re serviced by city crews, your pickup will be Tuesday, and no other days will be affected. If you’re serviced by our contractor Inland Waste, each day next week will be delayed by one day.

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