Weekly Update

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In light of the events that have occurred over the last couple months, 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 residents.

As I have noted before, we have 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. I did a deep dive on GVIP in a Weekly Update earlier this year.


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 materially increased funding for the Memphis Police Department and improved the pay (including a proposed 14 percent increase in my FY24 budget), benefits and promotions for our officers to better recruit and retain them.

Our officers are working diligently to arrest criminals, but too often the courts release them with little to no punishment or rehabilitation. For instance, in 2022, MPD arrested over 1,600 for theft or theft from cars and over 400 in the first three months of 2023. Many of them are armed with guns and most of them are immediately released from or never even accepted by the jail.

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, including the “Truth in Sentencing” law that passed last year. Unfortunately, prison time is not mandatory for someone who shoots another person; in fact, 25 percent of people guilty of aggravated assault with a gun avoid prison with a plea agreement or judgement of probation.

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 funds to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis to expand their great work to 11 high schools across our city.

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 thousands 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 thousands of available jobs now, and free training to prepare people for good-paying jobs. For more information, go here.

As we have stated many times, 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 or 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 if we are going to solve this challenge.

Doing good work: For more than 40 years, Alliance Healthcare Services has been serving the mental health needs of our community. They are the largest comprehensive behavioral health provider in Shelby County, and they are expanding their services even more.

After being awarded $4 million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, Alliance will have an Acute Outpatient Program for adults, children, and families. Alliance is the only organization in West TN that was awarded this grant, and they anticipate providing services to approximately 1,400 adults, children, and families. 

Additionally, they received $7 million in Governor Lee’s budget this year to help fund a new $27 million crisis facility slated for construction later this year.

Thanks to Laurie Powell and her team at Alliance for all the great work they have done and will continue to do for our community.

Tennessee Serves: This past Wednesday, I stopped by Governor Lee and First Lady Maria Lee’s Tennessee Serves West TN Foster Family Food Distribution Event. Over 650 foster families from the Shelby County were invited to a drive-thru distribution to receive a shelf-staple food box, produce box, and frozen protein for their family as a thank you for their dedication to caring for Tennessee’s youth in the foster care system.

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Thanks to the First Lady and Governor Lee for showing their support for our local foster families.

International Firefighters' Day: Yesterday was International Firefighters' Day. If you didn’t get the chance, be sure to say thank you to a firefighter for their unwavering commitment to serving and protecting our communities. They work tirelessly, often in hazardous and challenging conditions, to ensure that our homes and communities are safe. They are the true heroes!

Happy Cinco de Mayo: If you’re looking for something to do for Cinco de Mayo, here’s a great list to get the ball rolling.

Be safe and enjoy your weekend!


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