(Memphis) Efforts to keep one of the city’s most successful crime programs in place are underway.
Blue Crush has all but disappeared and some are asking if that’s why crime is on the rise.
On Your Side Investigator Stephanie Scurlock first told us about the changes to Blue Crush last October. There is now a fight to bring it back.
After several high-profile shootings people started asking the On Your Side Investigators where was Blue Crush initiative?
We investigated and found out it crashed.
Director Toney Armstrong told us the program, that once got nationwide attentio,n was all but gone because the department lost grant money for overtime to carry out all the arrests.
“We’ve had to be creative and come up with ways to do that, on duty,” Armstrong said, in October.
Armstong told us about changes but some council members say they were never told a thing about the lack of money to fund Blue Crush.
“We were never told that Blue Crush overtime had been cut,” said City Councilman Jim Strickland, Memphis.
Strickland learned about cuts after the Crime Commission sent a letter to city hall asking Blue Crush be restored. The commission says violent crime has increased by 10%.
Memphis Shelby Crime Commission Executive Dir. Michelle Fowlkes said, “Over the past year or so crime has been ticking up and it has been ticking up to the extent that we’re almost losing all of the gains that we made.”
Memphis CEO George Little says Blue Crush hasn’t gone away.
He says it’s evolved into the Community Oriented Policing program.
He says it was a Blue Crush like effort that lead to the recent deadly shooting of Officer Martoiya Lang.
Her undercover team was serving a drug warrant, something Blue Crush was famous for doing.
Still, Strickland wonders why the change and why council members were never told, “We were so successful for 5 or 6 years drastically reducing crime with Blue Crush, why would you ever abandon that program and then abandon it and not tell anyone.”
Councilman Strickland says he plans to ask Mayor Wharton some tough questions about Blue Crush during Tuesday’s City Council Public Safety Committee meeting.
News Channel 3 will be there to let you know the Mayor’s response.