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VOL. 131 | NO. 229 | Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Memphis-Area Leaders Unveil Five-Year Crime-Fighting Plan

By Andy Meek

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BILL GIBBONS

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is anticipating a “net increase” in the size of the Memphis Police Department a year from now, as officers complete training and the city can begin to address a department he says is “hundreds of officers short.”

Strickland made the point about having more officers on the street as part of a presentation by local law enforcement and criminal justice system leaders Tuesday, Nov. 15, of a new five-year Operation: Safe Community plan to reduce crime and make Shelby County safer.

Spearheaded by the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission, among the plan’s five broad goals – which include 16 more specific objectives as part of those goals – is to strengthen the ability of law enforcement to curb “violent street crime.”

Doing that, Strickland says, involves hiring more officers, as well as expanding data-driven policing and community policing. Strickland’s administration, as well as most city council members, have made building the police ranks from a little less than 2,000 back to the 2,400 level a high priority.

“I promised Memphians we would make driving down violent crime a priority, and this new Operation: Safe Community plan will be a key part of that effort,” Strickland said.

HAROLD COLLINS

Presenting the plan were crime commission president Bill Gibbons and vice president for social engagement Harold Collins, along with District Attorney General Amy Weirich, who is chairman of Operation: Safe Community. Strickland, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings and Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham were also on hand, as were elected leaders like state Sen. Mark Norris of Collierville.

All of the plan’s objectives will be evaluated and measured between now and 2021 through the Public Safety Institute at the University of Memphis where Gibbons serves as executive director.

“This is perhaps the most comprehensive and thoughtful approach to fighting crime that this community has ever devised,” said Weirich about the plan, which comes against the backdrop of a spike in homicides and violent crime earlier this year compared to the year before.

She said the plan’s creation began about eight months ago and was shaped over the course of hundreds of conversations with stakeholders who included “people who never miss a Neighborhood Watch meeting.”

“The goals are all aimed at one thing,” she said. “Reducing crime.”

Here are the plan’s five goals, and the objectives that are included in each of those goals:

Strengthen community engagement in crime prevention efforts.

• Create a “Neighborhood Safety Initiative” to strengthen Neighborhood Watch and community partnerships with law enforcement.

• Assign prosecutors to targeted geographic areas to pursue public safety priorities.

• Build trust through community policing and more interaction between law enforcement and the public.

• Expand the Safeways crime prevention program in apartment communities. Safeway apartment managers and owners take specific steps to make those communities safer, including installing cameras monitored by police and making access to those complexes more strict.

Strengthen law enforcement’s ability to reduce violent street crime.

• Hire and retain more law enforcement personnel.

• Expand data-driven, proactive policing.

• Enhance law enforcement training.

• Enhance information-gathering to reduce gang violence.

• Effectively initiate a “Gang Violence Intervention” model to curb gang-affiliated gun violence.

• Enact tougher state penalties for convicted felons with guns.

Strengthen intervention programs for ex-offenders.

• Provide jobs, life skills and support programs for high risk ex-offenders.

• Implement swift, certain and fair administrative sanctions for violating certain conditions of probation or parole.

Enhance domestic violence prevention and intervention efforts.

• Evaluate and expand the Family Safety Center to reduce the number of repeat victims.

• Effectively initiate a “Domestic Violence Intervention” model to deal with repeat offenders.

Enhance interventions for juveniles committing delinquent acts.

• Establish a juvenile assessment center for non-violent juvenile offenders.

• Create a system of Evening Reporting Centers to serve delinquent juveniles.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 19 170
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 20 118 736
BUSINESS LICENSES 27 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0