VOL. 133 | NO. 22 | Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Year End Stats Show Violent Crime Up In Memphis, Murders Down
By Bill Dries
Year-end crime statistics from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission confirm a drop in the city and countywide murder rates for 2017 compared to the city’s record murder rate in 2016. But the numbers also show violent crime as a general category increased in 2017 from 2016 by 8.3 percent in the city and 7.9 percent countywide, including the city of Memphis.
The major violence crime category includes not only murders but rape aggravated assault and robbery.
The city’s 200 murders in 2017 compared to a record 228 in 2016.
Aggravated assaults and robberies in Memphis were up 9.3 percent and 8.4 percent respectively from the previous year. Countywide aggravated assaults were up 9.3 percent and robberies 7.4 percent from 2016.
The number of rapes reported showed no change countywide and was down 0.2 percent in Memphis from the previous year.
Domestic violence, which is a category of its own, increased in 2017 by 2.7 percent countywide and 4.1 percent in Memphis compared to 2016.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation statistics showed a 6.3 percent jump in the overall crime rate for Memphis compared to 2016 and a 6 percent increase countywide. The overall crime rate as measured by the TBI takes in 54 different categories of crime.
The local crime commission statistics on property crime overall showed a larger percentage increase in Memphis and countywide than the major violent crime increases – 9.8 percent in Memphis and 9.5 percent countywide compared to 2016.
The property crime increase was driven by a 23.9 percent increase in auto thefts in Memphis over last year and a 20.4 percent increase countywide, Theft offenses also spiked with an 11.6 percent increase in that category countywide in a year and an 11.2 percent increase in the city.
Crime Commission president Bill Gibbons, who is also executive director the University of Memphis Public Safety Institute termed the drop in murders “encouraging.”
“The overall level of violence remains unacceptable,” he added in a written statement. “Implementation of a number of key steps this year in the Operation: Safe Community crime plan can help drive down the level of violence.”
Operation: Safe Community is the coalition of law enforcement, civic and elected leaders who oversee a countywide anti-crime strategy.
The measures Gibbons referred to include increasing the ranks of the Memphis Police force, which in 2017 showed a net gain in the number of police officers for the first time in six years, and adding officers to the Multi-Agency Gang Unit as well as violence intervention programs.