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VOL. 133 | NO. 78 | Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Daily Digest

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Major Violent Crime Drops In Latest Crime Stats

Major violent crime for the first quarter of 2018 was down 5.1 percent in Memphis compared to a year ago and down 4.9 percent countywide over the same period.

The crime statistics from the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission and the University of Memphis Public Safety Institute released Tuesday, April 17, show major property crime was up 2.8 percent in the city and increased 4.5 percent countywide from the first three months of 2017.

The figures are from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

“While it’s too early to predict a trend, a lot of the steps in the Operation: Safe Community plan that are designed to impact the violent crime rate are now being implemented,” said Bill Gibbons, president of the crime commission and executive director of the public safety institute. “With a focused and sustained effort, we can impact the crime rate significantly.”

Operation: Safe Community is the anti-crime plan backed by a coalition of local law enforcement and criminal justice system leaders.

The rate of murders in Memphis from January through March was down 37.8 percent compared to a year ago with 28 murders through the end of March, or 4.3 per 100,000 population.

The decrease was 35.6 percent countywide over the same period with 29 murders for the entire county, or 3.1 per 100,000 population.

Only one of the four categories that make up the major violent crime rate – aggravated assaults – increased in the first quarter, up 0.4 percent countywide and 1.2 percent in the city.

Motor vehicle thefts drove the city and countywide jump in major property crime for the quarter with a 31.1 percent increase from a year ago in Memphis or 198.9 per 100,000 population. The countywide increase in motor vehicle thefts was 30.8 percent higher than a year ago with 153.5 per 100,000 population.

District Attorney General Amy Weirich, who is chairwoman of Operation: Safe Community, said nearly half of the auto theft cases are the result of drivers leaving keys in the ignition and/or leaving a car running while they step away.

“Certainly lives are always more important than property,” she said in a written statement. “So I am extremely happy to see in this report a reduction in violent crimes both in the city and in the county.”

– Bill Dries

Commercial Appeal Sells Land To New York Investment Firm

Gannett Co. Inc., The Commercial Appeal’s parent company, has sold 5 acres adjacent to its 495 Union Ave. location to a New York-based investment company that specializes in acquiring underperforming and underutilized locations from legacy newspapers.

Twenty Lakes Holdings, doing business as 597 Beale Street LLC, purchased the parking lot behind the CA building for $1 million, according to a Tuesday, April 17, warranty deed.

While the parcel that the newspaper building sits on was not included in the sale, sources close to the transaction said they expect Twenty Lakes Holdings’ purchase of the building to be finalized soon.

Twenty Lakes’ portfolio includes more than 180 properties encompassing 2.3 million square feet in 29 different states, according to its website.

Its investment arm targets “opportunistic returns through a focus on legacy newspaper properties, surplus corporate real estate and high yielding transitional real estate backed by companies with investment grade and non-investment grade credit,” the website says.

Twenty Lakes recently acquired a handful of other Gannett-owned newspaper properties, including the Evansville, Indiana Courier & Press building, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Patriot-News building, the Now Media Group building in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and the Ventura County Star building in Camarillo, California.

– Patrick Lantrip

Tigers’ Ferguson, Jacobs Recognized for Academics

University of Memphis football player Riley Ferguson and Nick Jacobs were two of an all-time high 1,267 college football players named to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society. In order to be named to the honor society, football players must have maintained a 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college careers, have completed their final year of eligibility in 2017 and been a starter or significant contributor.

Ferguson graduated in December 2017 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. A first-team, all-conference quarterback as a senior, Ferguson passed for over 4,000 yards in 2017, helping Memphis to a 10-3 record, an American Athletic Conference Championship game appearance and the program’s first-ever appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. A semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien and Unitas Golden Arm awards, Ferguson was a five-time AAC offensive player of the week and was a semifinalist for the NFF’s Campbell Trophy.

Nick Jacobs completed his bachelor’s degree in May 2017. Jacobs last season averaged 41.0 yards per punt on 26 attempts. For his career, Jacobs downed 51 of 68 attempted punts inside the 20 and as a senior, had six punts travel 50 or more yards as he expanded his role from being the Tigers’ designated short field punter.

The two players are the 17th and 18th Tigers in program history to earn a spot on the NFF Hampshire Honor Society. Last year, Jake Elliott, the placekicker for the 2017 NFL Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, and Daniel Montiel, a CoSIDA Academic All-America second team honoree, were named to the list.

– Don Wade

Bill Prohibiting Sterilization Incentives Passes State House

A proposal by State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and state Rep. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, to prohibit Tennessee judges from offering defendants reduced jail time in exchange for sterilization passed the state House of Representatives by a vote of 70-23 Tuesday, April 17. The legislation now awaits the signature of Gov. Bill Haslam.

Senate Bill 2133 prohibits a sentencing court from making a sentencing determination based on a defendant’s consent or refusal to any form of temporary or permanent birth control, sterilization, or family planning services, regardless of whether the defendant’s consent is voluntarily given.

“Having children is one of the most important decisions an individual will ever make in his or her life,” Kelsey said. “The decision to have children should be left out of the courtroom.”

Kelsey and Akbari filed the bill in response to a White County judge offering reduced jail time to defendants who volunteered for sterilization. Judge Sam Benningfield said his goal was to break a “vicious cycle” of repeat drug offenders with children. The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct found that Benningfield violated rules regarding judicial independence, integrity and propriety.

“The offer of undergoing permanent sterilization or using long-acting contraceptives to reduce a judicial sentence is unconscionable,” Akbari said. “After reading about a White County judge who’d issued a standing order offering a 30-day reduction to inmates that received either a vasectomy or birth control implant, I knew the Legislature needed to act to ensure that this type of offer never occurred again. I’m proud of the bipartisan effort to work on this legislation.”

Defendants can still seek sterilization services if they choose to, but the bill prohibits judges from incentivizing sterilization with reduced jail time.

– Daily News staff

WFGM Grant Makes Memphis An Evidence2Success City

The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to lead Memphis as one of six cities implementing the Evidence2Success program.

Evidence2Success promotes healthy child development by helping communities and public systems work together to use data to understand how children are doing; select proven programs to enhance strengths and address needs; and develop financing and action plans to support the ongoing use of those proven programs. The framework was developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to building a brighter future for children and families, along with several partner organizations.

The grant to WFGM was announced Tuesday, April 17, at Booker T. Washington School, 715 S. Lauderdale St.

For 23 years, WFGM has played a major role as a backbone organization aligning people, resources and coordinating community-based services through the two-generation approach to reduce poverty.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is focused on the welfare of children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer, healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit aecf.org.

– Daily News staff

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 52 151
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751
BANKRUPTCIES 37 157 618
BUSINESS LICENSES 12 77 276
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0