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Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update: July 27, 2018
Updating our work to fight violent crime
Posted on 07/27/2018

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If you’ve been a subscriber to this email list for even a short amount of time, you know that we have a holistic, five-point strategy to reduce violent crime long-term.

I’ll start today by updating you on one part of it — our work to rebuild the Memphis Police Department. The backstory: Due to severely reduced recruiting between 2012 and 2015, coupled with benefits changes that caused our attrition to rise, we fell from a high of 2,452 officers in November 2011 to a modern low of 1,909 officers in August 2017.

As you can see from this chart we shared last year, our violent crime rate suffered:

Crime chart

But last August is also when our robust recruitment plan, which we initiated shortly after taking office, began to yield results. That’s when we graduated our largest police recruit class in seven years. And in January, we added another large officer class.

Our work is far from done. In just two weeks, another class of MPD officers will graduate and join the force — and we’re all looking forward to that. But I’m not satisfied. So in this year’s budget, I added a third police recruiting class to get more officers in the pipeline. That class started a couple of weeks ago.

We’re right in the middle of a big push for applicants for the next recruiting class, which starts in October. If you or someone you know wants to join the Best in Blue, I encourage you to visit to learn more. Our team was in Chicago and Seattle this week recruiting officer candidates, and we will be in Houston, Shreveport, and Jackson, Miss., in the coming days, too.

Rebuilding MPD is a time-consuming task. The results don’t happen overnight. But it has to be done. Our fight to reduce violent crime in the long-term has many fronts, but a central one is having a strong police force that increases community policing, further executes on Blue C.R.U.S.H., and relies less on overtime.

We’re getting there.

But that’s not the entirety of our crime plan. Here’s a look at the other four points, along with quick updates on each.

  • Giving second chances: We’ve raised private dollars to pay for expungements of the criminal records of non-violent felons. To date, more than 150 lives have been changed through our expungement program, thanks to your gifts. (As an aside, HopeWorks, one of the great nonprofits doing work in this space in town, is growing and opened a new headquarters last week. I was glad to be there — not simply to cut the ribbon, but to celebrate a group that is doing the hard work every day of changing our city.
  • Doing more for our youth: The true, long-term strategy to reduce crime in our city is to ensure more of our young people are connected to opportunity and steer clear of the wrong paths in life. We’ve made great strides in youth programming and shared many of those numbers in our Weekly Update a couple of weeks ago.
  • Tougher punishments for violent crimes: Like you, I’m fed up with the seeming revolving door for violent offenders at 201 Poplar. You probably know by now that we successfully lobbied the state legislature for stiffer sentences for felons in possession of guns and for domestic violence offenders. We’ve also strengthened our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s office, and that’s showing results. As we shared on June 1, the number of prosecutions of violent offenses in the federal system here has increased dramatically. Here’s a recent story from WREG-TV on that strengthened partnership.
  • Connecting people with jobs: So much of this boils down to personal responsibility — if you’re willing to choose a path away from violence, we’re here to do everything we can to connect you to economic opportunity. Though Workforce Investment Network is transitioning to county oversight due to a new statewide rule, it continues to connect job seekers with jobs. We continue to publicize opportunities for free education through our website, and we’ll also be hosting a Opportunity Memphis Career Fair on Aug. 4 at the Pipkin Building. The opportunities are there — we have historically low unemployment and some 15,000 open jobs in Greater Memphis right now.

The early results are encouraging. Violent crime is down eight percent in the first six months of 2018 when compared to the first six months of last year. All categories of violent crime, including murder, have seen declines. No one here is celebrating that, and we have plenty of work ahead. But you should know these stats.

Think about all the momentum we have in Memphis right now. And think about how much momentum we’ll have once we see the dramatic drops in violent crime we know we can achieve by working this plan long-term. It even further bolsters my commitment to our collective No. 1 goal that I hear in every corner of our city.

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