Weekly Update

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In light of the events that have occurred over the last couple weeks, I wanted to highlight again our public safety efforts. From a city-standpoint, I want you to know that we are doing everything in our power to protect our community.


As I have noted before, we started a gun violence interruption program—our Group Violence Intervention Program (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 been demonstrated to work in other cities. At the end of July, our 50 violence interrupters had made contact with 700 people. 250 took them up on their offer to move away from a criminal lifestyle and choose the right path moving forward.


In addition, we have continued to do 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 by $34 million and improved the pay, benefits and promotions for our officers to better recruit and retain them.

Between 2017 and early 2020, we increased our officer count from about 1,900 to 2,100.  Our goal is to reach the highest total complement ever reached by MPD, which was in 2011 at 2,450 .

During the two years of the pandemic and protests throughout the country, like other businesses and governments, we lost officers; we went back down to 1,900.  See https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/19/us/police-staffing-shortages-recruitment/index.html.

This year, we have graduated one class and have around 1,950 now. Also, we have a class of almost 100 at the academy now.

We are offering a $15,000 signing bonus and $10,000 moving expense for new officers. We successfully lobbied state government to waive the residency requirement. We offered a 10% raise to police — 5% this year and 5% next year.  We offered our current officers a retention bonus of 9% of their salary each year if they signed an agreement to stay in Memphis from 2 – 5 years; over 80% of our officers signed.  We also offered our officers a $5,000 referral bonus for each person they refer who graduates the academy and joins MPD.

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, domestic violence, and all violent crimes.

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. We have increased 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 has 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 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis to expand their great work.

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. There are 5,000-10,000 available jobs now, and free training to prepare people for good-paying jobs.

As we have stated often, it takes more than the Memphis Police Department and city government to successfully tackle this issue. City government does not have the legal authority to prosecute, sentence, or imprison criminals, rehabilitate criminals while in prison, or supervise adults or juveniles while under the authority of the courts. Other people and entities must also be held accountable. See last week’s Update for more information.


With respect to the schools—we can all agree that there is a challenge with truancy. I recently met with MSCS to discuss the issue. While the data I was given first may not be the same as the accurate data they plan to give me, we agreed to work together to help resolve the challenge.  Lastly, MSCS provided me with this promising information:


The Tennessee Department of Education recently named Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) an Advancing District, one step away from the state’s top category. The designation is based on the state’s accountability model, which includes multiple indicators such as graduation rates, state test scores, student academic growth, English language learner performance, and college and career readiness. The District’s new accountability rating moves it to the top 25% of districts in the state. This is its second distinction from the state in as many months. In August, the state designated MSCS as a Level 5 District because its student academic growth from 2021 to 2022 exceeded projections. As school districts across the country work to recover from pandemic learning loss, the accelerated rate of recovery that MSCS is demonstrating is impressive. It is only possible because of strong academic leadership and dedicated teachers such as Tennessee Teacher of the Year Dr. Melissa Collins of John P. Freeman Optional School in Whitehaven.


Memphis Parks: As I wrote earlier, it’s so important to make sure our young people have things to do when they are not in school to help keep them on the right path. Earlier this week, Memphis Parks’ Director Nick Walker, demonstrated to city council that the division is doing its part to provide those critical opportunities.


Just this summer, Memphis Parks held six youth baseball clinics (279 participants)​, had nine youth baseball teams (870 participants)​, and held 74 Youth soccer clinics (649 participants). Additionally, 1,700 youth used our pools, and 145 children learned how to swim. Memphis Parks had 22 different summer camp sites and served 1,800 kids.


Thanks to Director Walker and his team for their great work delivering these critical services to the next generation of Memphians.


Thank a Police Officer Day: Tomorrow is Thank a Police Officer Day.


The outstanding work of Memphis police officers happens every day but has been more evident recently. Please show your appreciation by thanking officers for their service when you see them.


Enjoy your weekend!




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