Weekly Update: Updating our fight against violent crime


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Since you subscribe to this email (thank you!), you probably know by now that we’ve been working our plan to reduce violent crime since day one. The plan has five major points, all of which work together:

  • Rebuilding MPD
  • Doing more for our youth
  • Strict punishment for violent crimes
  • More jobs
  • Reducing recidivism

For an in-depth dive into each of these, read this email from last month. And, for a look at our community's overall, multi-agency plan, click here.

Today, some updates:

Friday Night Lights matters. When I came into office, I brought a goal of re-energizing our community centers and libraries, particularly with programming for our youth. Year-to-date compared to the same period in 2015, we’re up 25 percent in youth participation at community centers — and up 57 percent in youth athletics participation.

We recently started a program called Friday Night Lights, which opens community centers for structured play and activity on Friday nights until midnight. I’ve made it a point to drop by one each Friday night, and they’re always full of activity — good, positive, constructive activity.

Rebuilding MPD continues. Two classes are currently training at the academy, and we are on track to be at 2,100 officers later this year. Thus far since we took office, we’ve hired some 450 new officers. And we’ve hired more officers in the past two years than in the previous six years combined.

Jobs change lives. We hosted a large job fair Thursday — Jobs in July — and Memphis turned out for it. Thousands of Memphians came to the event, where we connected employers to prospective employees and provided an array of social services and job training opportunities.

One woman, a U.S. Army veteran who was homeless, found both a job and housing Thursday. I’m so happy for her, and so proud of our team that changed so many lives Thursday.

Manhood University is changing lives, too. Don’t just take my word for it. Take the word of William Bedford, the Memphis State basketball star from the mid-1980s who recently went through Manhood University after serving time in prison. He was the subject of this profile of the program in The Commercial Appeal this week.

I’m passionate about the value of re-entry work. That’s why we expanded our highly successful Manhood University program, are now implementing it with soon-to-be-released inmates in the state correctional system, and created a similar program for women. Coupled with what the county is doing, re-entry work in this community has doubled.

Strict prosecution is essential. While prosecuting violent crime is beyond the scope of City government, we can still work in two major areas: 1) lobbying for stricter laws for violent crime, and 2) strengthening our relationships with prosecutors. We’ve done that with both the District Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office.

U.S. Attorney Mike Dunavant reports that as a result of an increase in prosecutions in the last fiscal year, guilty pleas or verdicts for federal firearm offenses are up 59.3 percent over the past three years.

Speaking of partnerships, you may have seen this week where we’ve joined forces with the Tennessee Highway Patrol on Operation Grizzly Bear, which will be a full saturation of our expressways. In the wake of the recent uptick in shootings there, this is essential. Thanks to Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Safety Commissioner Jeff Long for agreeing to our request.

In summary, if you’re willing to take personal responsibility, we’re willing to bend over backwards with programming and opportunities that will lead to a productive life. But, if you choose to violate the law by committing a violent act, we’re willing to bend over backwards to ensure you’re caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Reducing violent crime is a long-term task that requires the full attention of everyone in our community. By working our plan, we have seen slight violent crime reductions these past two years. Now, I know you don’t feel it, and I’m the first to say we have to keep our foot on the pedal.

My commitment to massive, long-term reductions in violent crime — our shared goal — remains just as keen as it was when we came into office three years ago.


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