Weekly Update

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As many of you have seen or read in the news this week, tragedy stuck when a valued member of our community was killed during a carjacking.  My prayers are with the family and friends of Reverend Autura Eason-Williams.


This devastating situation is, unfortunately, another example of the frustrating criminal justice system. The 15-year old charged in this case for murder was arrested two times late last year in possession of guns when he was 14 years old. The two instances are listed below.

  • October 2021—he and others were charged with unlawful possession of guns and drugs
  • December 2021—he was charged with carjacking and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (he followed a woman home from a store, pulled a gun on her, and took her car)

This is not the fault of arresting officers (city police or county sheriff) or prosecutors (federal or county); they are arresting and prosecuting the same criminals time and time again.


The recently passed Truth in Sentencing law helps with adult offenders, but we need better laws and more effective intervention for juveniles and laws holding parents accountable for the criminal actions of their minor children. Enough is enough.


Property Crimes: Violent crime is slightly down this year, but property crime has increased. Between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, the Memphis Police Department arrested over 1,500 people for Motor Vehicle Thefts and Thefts from Motor Vehicles.


As you can see in the two charts below both car thefts and car break-ins are up significantly year-over-year since 2019.






The Memphis Police Department is devoting more resources and has created an Auto Theft Task Force to address these crimes. 




You can help the police. Theft from cars has skyrocketed since the passage of a state law in 2014 allowing citizens to carry guns in their vehicles without a permit.  There is no doubt that the thieves are looking for guns.  Please store your gun in a locked devise within your car when you park.  In addition, MPD is recommending several other things to avoid becoming a victim. See them here and here.


Overall Plan: From a city-standpoint, we are doing the following:

  • Rebuilding MPD. Since we’ve taken office, and in partnership with the City Council, we’ve increased funding for the Memphis Police Department and improved the pay (a five percent pay raise and a nine percent bonus were in the FY22 budget, as well as, a $15,000-signing bonus for new recruits with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds), and improved benefits and promotions for our officers to better recruit and retain them. Prior to the pandemic, we had increased the force from 1,900 officers to almost 2,100, but since the pandemic, our numbers have again dropped below 2,000. Currently, we have over 100 recruits in the academy and are aggressively recruiting more to rebuild the force again.
  • 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 criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We have worked with the state to strengthen penalties for gun crimes and domestic violence, as well as, the recently passed Truth in Sentencing law mentioned above.
  • Positively affecting more young people. The true long-term solution to crime is young people picking the right path instead of the wrong one. Young people need something productive to do when they’re not in school. Prior to the pandemic, we had greatly increased those activities and participation, and while we have fully resumed the programing, youth participation has not yet reached prepandemic levels.. We had increased by 100 percent the number of youth summer jobs compared to when we took office, and we worked with the private sector to create even more. Youth library programming and parks youth athletics participation had more than doubled, and more youth are using our community centers. And while it is certainly a long-term investment, we funded universal, needs-based Pre-K for the first time in City history. Most recently and with City Council’s help, we allocated $9 million of ARPA funds to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis.
  • Reducing recidivism. 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 hundreds of non-violent felons 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. At City Hall, we have worked hard to create an environment in our city to enable the private sector to invest more and more, and we’ve worked to overhaul how our community attracts new jobs. Since 2016, there are roughly 20,000 more jobs, and there are more than 10,000 open in our community right now. See opportunitymemphis.com and jobs4tn.gov to learn more.

As I have stated often, it takes more than the Memphis Police Department and city government to successfully tackle this issue. Other people and entities must also be held accountable, and we must all work together towards a solution.


Tennessee Officer of the Year: Congratulations to Officer Antonio Espinoza on being named Tennessee Officer of the Year by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. This is a tremendous honor and well-deserved recognition. The men and women of your Memphis Police Department are truly some of the best officers in the country, and we cannot thank them enough for the work they do each day to protect and serve our community.


Enjoy your weekend!




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