Weekly Update

weekly update header

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

Bookmark and Share


Most people involved in our community’s attempts to reduce crime agree on the importance of education, workforce development, good paying jobs, positive influences for our youth, second chances for those with criminal records, and drug and mental health treatment.

There is, however, a healthy debate occurring in Memphis over whether the Shelby County criminal justice system governed by Tennessee law is too weak or too harsh on criminals.  As I have stated many times, I clearly believe that the number one challenge we have in reducing crime through law enforcement is the lack of consequences for too many violent offenders.  

I have often written to you about how 201 Poplar is a revolving door.  As a result, I advocated for the “Truth in Sentencing” law passed last Spring by the state legislature because it stiffened the sentences for many violent crimes.

On the other side of the argument, the Daily Memphian wrote this week that statements by me and Tennessee House Speaker Sexton about 201 Poplar being a revolving door and the need for the new sentencing law are “far from matching reality” in Shelby County.

Respectfully, I disagree.  In fact, the reality for the public and victims is that 201 Poplar is too often a revolving door and that the “Truth in Sentencing” law was long overdue.  I will give you just a few examples of that reality.

First example: Last week, a drunk driver at a high rate of speed on I-240 struck three firefighters on the side of the road helping crash victims. Two firefighters were taken to the hospital, and one of them had to have surgery and was admitted for several days.  Despite three prior DUIs, the Shelby County court allowed him to be released from custody on a $2,500 bond. 

The revolving door at 201 Poplar allowed the drunk driver to return safely to his home well before the badly injured firefighter could return to his home from the hospital.  But the Daily Memphian insists that the revolving door is “far from matching reality.”

Other examples:

In 2021, Shelby County Criminal Court awarded judicial diversion to 25 percent of all persons convicted solely of aggravated assault, meaning no prison time.  Some examples of crimes receiving no prison time:

  • Defendant shot his roommate
  • Defendant shot victim in the stomach
  • Defendant stabbed victim with scissors
  • Several drive-by shootings

Another Example:

In late 2020, two men were charged with First Degree Murder in Preparation of Robbery and were released from jail on bond.  In October 2021, still out on bond, these two men were involved in a shootout over drugs (54 bullet casings were found) and two men died.

Yet another example:

On September 20, 2020, a suspect was charged with aggravated assault (shooting at people on the interstate) and was given a $7,300 bond.  The next day he posted bond and was released.  On November 29, 2020, the suspect was involved in an attempted armed robbery where four men were shot and two killed.

One last example:

In 2017, a man was involved in an altercation at a bowling alley, went to his car in the parking lot, got a gun, walked back in and fired several times inside the building.  He injured four people and later pled guilty to aggravated assault.  He only served six months. In 2021, he shot and killed Young Dolph.

But the Daily Memphian insists that the revolving door and the need for stiffer sentences are “far from matching reality.”

If we are going to take our violent crime challenge seriously, there must be strong repercussions for criminals. I will continue to fight to improve our broken judicial system, but I but need your help in holding all elected officials accountable for their roles. Please understand that those who disagree with our position will use the first few paragraphs of the Daily Memphian’s article in favor of a more relaxed judicial system, so your voice is needed.

Gun Violence Intervention Program:  On July 1, 2021, in partnership with the city council, particularly Dr. Jeff Warren, we began to implement a gun violence intervention program, which is strategy that identifies and engages individuals most at-risk of shooting or being shot and applies appropriate interventions through law enforcement, community or hospital violence intervention, and/or connecting them to supportive services.  This kind of program has had proven results in many other cities, particularly before the pandemic.

One part of the program is street intervention, where a team of 50 trained interventionists (901 Bloc Squad), who know the streets and understand the dynamics of gangs and cliques, connect with individuals to mediate “beefs,” discourage retaliation and promote positive choices to get them on the right track. Year to date, the 901 Bloc Squad has intervened with 883 individuals fitting the program criteria and 278 of them have accepted assistance to turn their lives around.

Interventions are also occurring in a hospital and through “focused deterrence” involving police officers, prosecutors, the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and members of the community.

Year-to-date, homicides are down 15% compared to last year due to a multitude of reasons.  Nationally, homicides are down by about five percent. The Truth in Sentencing law took effect on July 1, 2022.  The Memphis Police Department has done good work through its Scorpion Team, multi-agency gang unit, auto theft task force, fugitive unit and gun crimes unit.  But, in addition, the work of the GVIP team and 901 Bloc Squad appear to be making a difference.

While I understand and have written to you about this year’s rise in property crime (theft of cars and theft from cars), please know we are working every day to get those numbers down as well. We still have a long way to go in our decades-old struggle with violent crime, but we are making some slight progress.

Opportunity R3: I’ve written to you before about our recently launched Opportunity Memphis R3 (Rethinking, Rebuilding, Rebranding) program. As a reminder, it is geared towards opportunity youth (ages 16-24, not in school and unemployed), and it offers a guided path to further their education or prepare them for workforce readiness.

I want to share another success story that happened this week.


Kyeisha Childress successfully completed the program and was just awarded her Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) certification. Congratulations Kyeisha!! We’re so proud of you.

To Ken Moody and his team in the Office of Community Affairs and our partners on the City Council—thank you for all you are doing to help our community.

Enjoy your weekend!


Mayor's signature