Weekly Update


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I had a front-row seat Tuesday night to the start of a program that could have a major impact in driving down our violent crime.

It’s called “focused deterrence,” and here’s how it works: Individuals who are on parole or probation are required to come to an event. There, two paths are clearly laid out for them.

One path is an array of social services — help getting housing, a job, or education, for instance.

The other path is an array of law enforcement, clearly sharing the message that if the individual doesn’t choose the first path, the consequences of further violence will be stiff and severe.

Further driving home the message, the individuals are required to bring a loved one with them, too.

This kind of program has worked in other cities. Pioneered in Boston years ago as “Operation Ceasefire,” it resulted in a major decrease in homicides. This is the simple matter of finding the small number of individuals who account for our violent crime and offering them either a clear way out of crime or a clear path to the penitentiary.

We don’t believe in being insular in our approach to fighting crime — we believe in seeing what has worked in other places and bringing it here. This is a great example of that. This is a part of the Crime Commission’s Operation: Safe Community plan, and I appreciate Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich for coordinating its execution. General Weirich shares more details about how it works here.

Cracking down: Also this week, the DA’s office announced that it had obtained felony indictments of 34 accused traffickers of drugs. This is the result of a citywide operation by the Memphis Police Department.

And a day later, the U.S. Attorney's Office, in partnership with MPD, announced the indictment of 25 gang members, also for drug trafficking.

Speaking of MPD: You surely saw this week the news of the man’s body that was found in the back of a van at the MPD impound lot. Director Michael Rallings said it best when he came forward with the news Tuesday afternoon: This is unacceptable, and Memphians deserve better. I fully support MPD’s internal investigation; we must know how this happened and keep it from happening again.

Don’t leave money on the table: It’s tax season, and we’re again proud to team up with United Way for its Free Tax Prep program for people living in households with $54,000 or less annual income. If you’re interested, call our 2-1-1 line and we’ll connect you.

Last year, this free program helped bring in an average refund of $1,730 to those who participated. Even more, it brought in $4.27 million in Earned Income Tax Credits to Mid-Southerners. You need to know about the Earned Income Tax Credit — it’s a major way people with lower incomes can turn tax time into refund time.

Again, call 2-1-1 to learn more.

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