Memphis mayor gives his first State of the City speech, acknowledges crime challenges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- On Thursday, Mayor Jim Strickland gave his first State of the City speech where he highlighted last year’s accomplishments and acknowledged the challenges we still have going forward.

If Mayor Strickland were to receive a grade on how he did last year, he said he’d give himself a B or a B plus. He admitted there’s plenty of room to grow and a lot of that has to do with our violent crime rate.

"I truly believe Memphis is a city that is changing the world," said Strickland.

Mayor Jim Strickland shared what he saw as the main accomplishments of 2016, starting with the jobs ServiceMaster brought downtown and the nearly 2,000 jobs within St. Jude.

He also mentioned the growing businesses owned by minorities and women.

"I`m proud when you dial 911 with your most crucial phone call, we answer it," he said.

He said answer times are under 14 seconds, which is a minute quicker than in the past.

"I also know this, our challenges are real our challenges are critical," said Strickland.

The biggest challenge? Our soaring violent crime.

The mayor said there are 31 people graduating from the MPD academy this week and hopes to have another 200 in classes by September.

"Our goal is to investigate, identify and convict the most violent and repeat offenders we have and get them off streets," said Strickland.

He noted the importance of intervening in kids` lives before it`s too late.

"The idle mind is a devil`s workshop and if we allow our young people to remain on the streets and become influenced by those on the streets then you'll have a result of those young people going out and committing the crimes they`ve been committing," said Councilman Berlin Boyd.

Mayor Strickland ended his speech with a challenge to the community, asking people to do one of three things: Mentor a child, read with a child or help clean up our community`s streets.

"I ask you to join this change and be a part of the great change that's to come in Memphis," said Strickland.

Another topic was helping the homeless community in Memphis. A new city program started a few months ago that pays the homeless $9 an hour to work. The mayor said there’s been about 70 people who have taken advantage of it so far.