Weekly Update

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As you may have seen over the last couple days, leaders in state government are stepping up to the plate to help us with our decades old challenge with violent crime. Both Governor Bill Lee and Speaker Cameron Sexton were in Memphis on Thursday to outline their respective plans.


Governor Lee announced on Wednesday some major public safety investments in his fiscal year 2022-2023 proposed budget for Memphis and Shelby County.


Some of those investments include:

  • 20 additional Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers for Shelby County funded 100% by the state
  • Creation of a $150 million Violent Crime Intervention Fund for law enforcement agencies across the state to invest in evidence-based programming and resources
  • $30 million to support relocation bonuses for out-of-state police officers seeking to move to Tennessee
  • Expansion of state funding for law enforcement basic training and increasing the frequency of training for new recruits
  • Access to a statewide hiring portal that includes qualified law enforcement recruits from outside of Tennessee who are looking to relocate

Thank you to Governor Lee for this, particularly the 20 additional Tennessee Highway Patrol officers for Shelby County. It will make our interstates safer, and allow Memphis police officers to focus on city streets.

In addition to Governor Lee’s proposed investment, Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally are proposing a “Truth-in-Sentencing” bill (HB2656 and SB2248) that will help us keep violent criminals off our streets.

For longer than many of us care to remember, violent crime has plagued our city. I’m tired of it, and I certainly know Memphians are too.

Fighting violent crime is a complex process with many pieces to the puzzle, and unfortunately there’s not a quick fix. A few of the most important pieces of the puzzle (and I talk about them often) are providing more opportunities for young people, and more and enhanced funding for re-entry services for those who have paid their debt to society.

Our administration has put a heavy focus on more opportunities for young people. We have doubled the number of youth summer jobs compared to when we took office, and we recently just allocated another nearly $3 million over three years in federal funds to grow our program by an additional 350 youth a year.

Youth library programming and youth athletics participation at Parks has more than doubled, and more youth are using our community centers. And while it is certainly a long-term investment, we implemented universal, needs-based Pre-K for the first time in City history.

With Superintendent Ray’s partnership and with City Council’s help, we allocated $9 million of federal funds to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis to replicate their successful four-year program at Craigmont High School to 10 additional schools. At Craigmont, 100 percent of the club members have graduated high school and 100 percent have gone on to higher education, joined the military or gotten a job.

We recently funded a gun violence intervention program or GVIP. It’s a comprehensive and collaborative initiative aimed directly at interrupting the cycle of violent crime by adding new and significant resources to that work. GVIP has been developed from evidence-based practices that have worked in other cities.

We have expanded programs that work to connect local employers with individuals who have paid their debt to society and are leaving prison. We raised private funds to pay for the expungement fees for nearly 2,400 non-violent felons and have lobbied to have those fees reduced.

We have also worked with companies like Kroger and divisions within city government to hire dozens of men and women who have successfully completed our second chance programs. 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.

But equally as important, we must have consequences for those committing violent acts in our community, and the statistics show stiffer sentencing laws work.

Let’s take Virginia—in 1995 the state implemented Truth in Sentencing.

Since then:

  1. Violent felons are spending significantly more time in prison;
  2. There are fewer repeat violent offenders;
  3. A greater share of prison beds are being used by violent offenders;
  4. Many lower-risk felons are being punished through alternative methods in lieu of prison without compromising public safety;
  5. Prison population growth has slowed; and
  6. The overall crime rate has declined, including the violent crime rate.
  7. Recently, Virginia was ranked among the safest states with the lowest crime rates and the recidivism rate was the lowest in the nation.

Virginia is just one example. Speaker Sexton, in his remarks yesterday, also talked about Florida who implemented stiffer sentences for violent crimes around the same time as Virginia and experienced similar results.

Tennessee is a different story.

I was told recently by one of our violence interrupters that criminals in our city are laughing at us. They know that if they commit a crime and get arrested, they’ll be back on the streets in just a short amount of time.

Here are two examples.

As it stands right now, the average time served for those convicted of attempted first-degree murder involving serious bodily injury is only 5.7 years. And shooting a gun at another person, which is an aggravated assault, does not require any time in prison. In fact, the current state law requires the judge to presume probation with no time in prison.

That’s unacceptable to me, and its unacceptable to the families who are forced to deal with the heartache these crimes cause.

For all the above reasons, I was happy to stand with Speaker Sexton, Chief Davis, Sheriff Bonner, and District Attorney General Amy Weirich yesterday to support this bill. It’s time to take action.


Thanks again to Governor Bill Lee and Speaker Cameron Sexton for their work to help us keep Memphians safe.


2022 Trailblazers: Earlier this week, we held the 2022 Memphis Heritage Trail Trailblazer Awards. The event is sponsored by the City of Memphis and particularly our Division of Housing and Community Development. This year was another great event and hats off to our HCD staff for doing a wonderful job.


I have attended all of the Trailblazer awards, and each list of honorees continue to inspire me with the work that they do to better our community in their own way. This year’s award winners are:

 Roshun Austin, The Works CDC

  • Carolyn Michael Banks, Tour of Possibilities
  • Paula Casey, Tennessee Woman Suffrage Trail
  • Charles Champion, Champions Pharmacy and Herb Store
  • Collage Dance Collective
  • Facing History and Ourselves
  • Marlon Foster, Knowledge Quest
  • Self +Tucker Architects
  • Archie Willis, ComCap Partners.


The City of Memphis created the Memphis heritage trail project in honor of African American history to tell the African American journey and experience of Memphians.


Congratulations again to all the Trailblazer honorees. We honor you and your achievements and those you will continue to make to better the lives of others.


Enjoy your weekend!


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