Weekly Update

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I want to start out this week’s Update by saying two words that in my opinion can never be said enough to our public safety employees—thank you.  

Thank you to the heroes at the Memphis Police Department who are working extremely hard every day to keep us safe. Last year, I visited every shift of officers at every precinct and the special units. One of their main frustrations is having to encounter and arrest the same individuals over and over—the revolving door that I have written to you about often.  (here, here, and here).

Here is a very brief review of data from your Memphis Police Department for 2022:

Number of calls responded to 630,063
Number of stops for moving violations 130,481
Number of arrests for all crimes 35,679
Number of arrests for car thefts 1,405
Number of arrests for reckless driving 990
Number of arrests for car break-ins 921
Number of officers shot at 63 (3 wounded)
Number of rounds fired at officers 146

Below is some new information on the revolving door:

Quick Release. As you know, bonds are set for most adults charged with crimes, and personally, I believe that many times they are often far too low, which allows the system to resemble “catch and release.” For example, the driver who was drunk (three times the legal limit) and caused the crash that killed Memphis Firefighter David Pleasant was released on a $50,000 bond (meaning the person was only required to pay $5,000) by 201 Poplar. In Ohio, on the other hand, a bond was set at $500,000 for a driver who struck and killed a firefighter.

And you probably heard about the man arrested and charged with first degree murder who was released with no bond required on December 31, 2022.

It appears that our bonds are known to be low. Last month, a man threatened to kidnap and torture another person and later hit an officer with his car.  When a witness tried to tell the man “it was not worth it,” the man confidently replied that he “had bail money”.

With respect to Juvenile Court, it detains a very small fraction of juveniles who commit crimes due to a policy adopted about 10 years ago.


Below are a couple of examples involving juveniles. 

First, on December 7, 2022, two brothers (11 and 12 years old) and another youth pointed a gun at a man, pulled him out of his car, and stole his car, wallet and phone. The two brothers were arrested later that day. Juvenile Court would not take the younger brother and held the older one for two days.

On December 8, the younger brother committed three crimes—a carjacking, a robbery, and an aggravated assault/robbery. On December 9, after his older brother was released, they stole a car.  On December 10, they committed two crimes—a carjacking and a robbery. On December 11, they committed five robberies. On December 13, they committed two crimes—a carjacking and a robbery. 

Police arrested them again on December 14.

Second, on December 12, 2022, a 17-year-old was arrested for a carjacking/armed robbery. He was transported to Juvenile Court and was later released. On December 21, the juvenile was arrested for another carjacking.

Justice Delayed:  The Daily Memphian did a second story last week highlighting the extraordinarily long time it takes to conduct trials for adults in criminal court. Bottom line, it takes several years.

In September of 2022, there were 465 pending matters waiting to be tried. Below are the number of cases tried in the last few years:















As a comparison, the man in Wisconsin who killed six people in a Christmas parade in November 2021 was tried and convicted by a jury in October 2022—11 months later.

Weak Sentences: On July 14, 2021, a police officer followed a car driving in the opposing lanes of traffic. When the car stopped at its destination, the officer approached the driver who had gotten out of the car. The driver pulled a gun on the officer, who took cover behind a tree. The man fired three shots at the officer, and fortunately, none of them struck the officer. The suspect was later arrested in August and charged with attempted first-degree murder and other charges.

On December 7, 2022, the district attorney’s office reached a deal with the defendant, which the officer opposed, and the court approved for probation for eight years—no prison time.

With respect to people who steal cars or break into cars, almost all of the adult defendants are placed on probation. As you can see as I mentioned above, MPD has arrested over 2,300 people for these two crimes, and virtually all of them are currently back in the community. There is very little punishment for adults who commit these crimes, and none for juveniles.

Conclusion—Too Little Consequence.  

Quick Releases + Long-Delayed Trials + Weak Sentences = Little-to-No Consequences, Deterrence or Justice

The judicial system is broken. Because of that, it is a tremendous obstacle in reducing crime, and it is demoralizing on the law enforcement side of the overall efforts.

One more sad and frustrating story.

Last week, I met with the family of a murder victim. It was heartbreaking to hear the sadness of losing a wonderful loved one. But I also heard the frustration about the broken system that I have heard about many times from police officers.  The mother said:

 “This was my only son. He was gunned down by three teenagers right at my brother’s front door. These adolescents set up an ambush for my son and carried it out with methodical precision. What is this city going to do to curb the influx of guns? What is going to be done about these teenagers committing these heinous crimes? What is going to be done about the adult involvement of these kids getting these guns and bullets? These kids aren’t even old enough to purchase firearms. The adults involved should be held accountable also. These adolescents think they are untouchable due to the laws. Some of them have been in and out of juvenile detention and know the law better than police or a lawyer. My family has been destroyed by this act of violence. My son’s voice has been silenced, so I am left with no other choice but to take a stand and be his voice. I am taking a stand for him and all the families that have lost a loved one due to a senseless act of violence in the city of Memphis.”

Some Proposed Solutions:  We are proposing new laws to the state legislature that has just begun its session, which will likely run through May. 

In addition, the court system at 201 Poplar needs to be more transparent in its actions, such as posting every Bail Setting Form and every Judgment on a website so it’s easily accessible to the public.  Below are some examples.

The Bail Setting Form in the matter of the defendant charged with first degree murder but released without bond on December 31, 2022:


The Judgment of the man charged with Attempted Second-Degree Murder of a police officer:


City government posts every contract on its website, so this type of transparency can be accomplished. In addition, the websites need to provide an easy mechanism for the public to express their opinions as to the decisions that are affecting their safety.  At city hall, we have emails, telephone numbers, and social media accounts for the public to use and follow. Most publicly elected decision makers in the court system do not provide such access, and I believe it is imperative they do so.

The Graduates: To the 115 fire recruits who graduated last night—congratulations and thank you for choosing to serve to our city.


Thank you for the long days and nights you will have during your career. Thank you for being the first line of defense, the first people to respond to worst scenes imaginable, and the first people to go into a building everyone else is running out of. Thank you for the risks you will take every day.

On behalf of a grateful city, again a heartfelt congratulations on this new chapter and thank you for your service.

A quick request: Our communications team works hard to try to get the word out about what's happening around the city. Keeping you informed is our mission, and to kick-off the new year we would like to hear from you about your preferences when it comes to receiving City communications.

The eight-question survey should take no more than five minutes to complete, and it is anonymous. Thanks in advance for your help with this request.

Enjoy your weekend!


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