Weekly Update: On public safety, trash service, and tax prep


Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Bookmark and Share



From Orange Mound to Smokey City, Downtown to East Memphis, North Memphis to South Memphis, it remains important that you all know this: The long-term reduction of violent crime is our number one priority at City Hall — period.

Earlier this week, the Crime Commission released its year-over-year stats noting that our violent crime rate is down for the second year in a row. All major violent crime declined 4.1 percent in Memphis and 4.7 percent throughout the county compared to 2018. Reported robberies were down 20.8 percent in Memphis and 20.0 percent countywide. Reported rapes dropped as well by 15.6 percent in Memphis and 14.8 percent in all of Shelby County.

But unfortunately, many of us are not feeling that reduction. Our homicide rate was up 2.2 percent compared to 2018. That fact was further highlighted this week with the senseless violence that happened over the weekend stealing three young people from their families, their friends and our community.

The loss of one life is too many, but as a parent, the loss of a child due to this kind of violence is unconscionable. And, just like you, I’m angry and heartbroken.

We still have so much work to do, but I want you to know that we’re not idly standing by. We do have an overall crime reduction strategy, and we’re working it every day. We based it on best practices from cities nationwide, and began implementing it as soon as we took office.

  • Rebuilding MPD. Since we’ve taken office, and in partnership with the City Council, we’ve increased funding for the Memphis Police Department by $21 million. Our total officer count is just shy of 2,100 and that’s up from 1,909 in August 2017.We’re continuing the work to recruit and retain good, quality officers. A fully staffed and resourced MPD is key to our overall efforts — particularly in strengthening community policing and Blue C.R.U.S.H. What is fully staffed? Let’s compare ourselves with New York City, which has led all major cities in crime reduction for the last 25 years. New York City has 36,000 police officers and 8,500,000 residents, which translates to 1 officer for every 236 people. With a population of 650,000 people, Memphis would need over 2,750 officers to reach New York City’s ratio.
  • Positively affecting more young people. We have increased youth summer jobs by 90 percent compared to when we took office, and we’ve worked with the private sector to grow that even more. Youth library programming attendance has nearly tripled. We’re continuing the work to increase outreach to at-risk youth. And while this is certainly a long-term implementation, we’ve funded universal, needs-based Pre-K for the first time in City history.
  • Reducing recidivism.Our administration and the City Council created two re-entry programs—one for men (Manhood University) and one for women (Women Offering Women Support). Individuals who want to turn their lives around go through a six-week course, and we work to place them in a job. Several hundred individuals have graduated and many have found meaningful employment. In collaboration with those programs, we announced earlier this year the creation of the Memphis Public Service Corps. This new pilot program will provide part-time work to men and women 18 years and older that have gone through our Manhood and WOWS programs and place them into free job training programs to get them the skills needed for good paying technical careers. We have worked to fund expungement fees for non-violent felons with private dollars, and have lobbied to have those fees reduced. It is vitally important that ex-felons have the opportunity to become productive members of society, or else, as statistics show, they are more likely to commit crimes again. 
  • Increasing economic opportunity. We work hard every day to be a government that works at the speed of business because the companies who come here and the jobs they bring with them can be lifechanging for many in our community. Since 2016, we’ve seen billions in development, 20,000 more Memphians are working, and our unemployment through November 2019 stands at 4 percent.
  • Punishing violent offenders. While there’s no question that we should explore alternatives to prison for non-violent felons, there’s also no question that we should prosecute violent felons to the fullest extent of the law. We have worked with the state to strengthen penalties for gun crimes and domestic violence, and tightened our partnership with the U.S. Attorney to drastically increase prosecutions of violent gun crimes in the tougher, federal system.

Even though you probably do not feel it, we are making headway.

We won’t rest until we see more positive results because that’s what Memphians deserve.

For more detailed information on crime trends in Memphis, go to the Crime Commission’s website at www.memphiscrime.org or you can visit the Memphis Data Hub at https://data.memphistn.gov/. To submit a tip, visit http://crimestopmem.org/.

Point of clarification: You may have seen a story last week that the Memphis Police Department is receiving a $10 million grant from the federal government. That’s a little misleading.

The truth is that Memphis is one of seven cities that is eligible for a total of $71 million in funds. Memphis and Shelby County are only guaranteed $1.4 million that can be used as a reimbursement for overtime, training, and vehicles.

The rest of the funds will be awarded to the seven cities based on competitive bids. Memphis and Shelby County must jointly apply, and the funds can only be used for the salaries of newly hired officers for three years. You can be assured that we will work with the Sheriff and his office to present the best bid possible.

Solid Waste: As you may have heard, we’re facing a potential unsanctioned strike in our Solid Waste Division this Saturday. To give you some background, last September we started talks with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to look at options to solve the issue of providing Memphis residents with great collection services on holiday workweeks and on the Saturday after the holidays.

Initially, we made efforts to improve service by offering voluntary overtime days during holiday weeks. However, it became apparent that this option wasn’t working. We attempted this 11 times, and each time we were unable to sufficiently obtain the necessary amount of employees to participate to ensure continued service. This meant that during holiday week service, we were unable to effectively pick up your inside and outside cart collections by using voluntary overtime.


After meeting with Solid Waste Management and AFSCME Local 1733, the consensus for improving collection services during holiday weeks was to have mandatory overtime Saturday workdays.  In other words, the employees are required to work the Saturday of any week following a holiday and will receive time and a half for any hours over 40 worked that week.  This only occurs 11 times a year. 


This plan is in accordance with our AFSCME Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (Article 23 Overtime), our own City of Memphis Personnel Policy (PM-18-05) and Fair Labor Standards Act (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa).


The plan was presented to AFSCME leadership in September 2019, and they agreed in December 2019. All employees were notified about the agreed-upon plan on January 2, 2020, and this week is the first week that the policy is being implemented. 


In addition to violating their MOU with the City, there is also a Charter Ordinance that specifically addresses this particular situation.


Charter Ordinance No. 2766 prohibits strikes (i.e. work stoppage) and considers municipal employees who participate in a work stoppage to have resigned.



(3) No person holding a position by appointment or employment under direct supervision of the Mayor, City Court Clerk, or City Judges, which persons are hereinafter referred to as municipal employees, shall strike, nor shall any municipal employee cause, instigate, or afford leadership to a strike against the City of Memphis. For the purpose of this section, any municipal employee who willfully fails to report for duty, is willfully absent from his or her position, willfully engages in a work stoppage or slowdown, willfully interrupts city operations or services, or in any way willfully abstains in whole or in part from the full, faithful, and proper performance of the duties of his or her employment because such municipal employee is "honoring" a strike, shall be deemed to be on strike. Any municipal employee who participates in a strike as herein defined shall be conclusively deemed to have resigned his appointment or employment with the City; provided, however, nothing herein shall infringe upon any individual's rights under the Civil Service provisions of this Charter.


As this develops, we are continuing to monitor the situation. We have already lined up two emergency contractors to help fill any potential gap that may be felt in service, but hopefully we won’t have to use them.


It’s almost that time: Yep, we’re moving into everyone’s favorite time of year—tax season.


In partnership with United Way of the Midsouth, we’re offering free tax preparation for households making $55,000 or less to help get the most out of this year’s tax return. Last year, United Way Free Tax Prep helped bring in over $12.2 million in refunds and ensured over $4.5 million in Earned Income Tax Credits were claimed by local citizens. The average refund was over $1,141.00.


For more information about the program click here. To set up an appointment, please call 2-1-1.



Mayor's signature