Some Memphis Leaders Say Crime Isn’t A Top Priority But Should Be

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(Memphis) According to city leaders, Memphis’s crime problem is so bad the city is losing residents at an alarming rate.

The budget is being tightened with the fight against crime using up most of your tax money.

The City of Memphis spends nearly two-thirds of its $700 million budget on fire and police.

Last week alone, the City of Memphis averaged a shooting almost every day.

Memphis City Councilman Lee Harris admits crime is Memphis`s biggest problem but it's not the city's top priority, “I think there are enough resources to confront the serious issues of crime if we prioritized it, and I'm not sure we've done the best job we could."

Harris says the city spends more time focusing on economic development projects like the Autozone Park stadium purchase.

Council is working on next year's budget now and all departments including public safety are bracing for possible cuts.

Despite last week's string of shootings, Councilman Jim Strickland believes public safety can handle a budget cut because Police and Fire aren't spending money as efficiently as they could.

“Any division of government can be run more efficiently so there are some parts of fire and police that should be cut even thought I do believe public safety is our number one priority,” said Strickland.

Harris and Strickland both agree the solution doesn't rest in public safety, and it’s been given enough money.

They think parks and recreations, along with education are the key.

“There are all sorts of things that we could do that are not strictly police and fire, but are linked, like making sure kids have something to do after school, making sure kids are not out after curfew,” said Harris.

In Shelby County, almost 75% of third graders can’t read at grade level which Strickland believes translates into the 70% graduation rate and teens falling into the wrong path.

He claims the solution is long-term, but figuring out how to make students more successful at school, will make the biggest difference.