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Bluff City to receive federal help fighting crime

MEMPHIS, Tenn -- Memphis is one of 12 cities that will soon be receiving federal help to combat the violent crime plaguing our neighborhoods.

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the National Public Safety Partnership will "use data-driven, evidence-based strategies" to help local agencies investigate and prosecute criminals.

Each city will also have access to two separate teams: a Diagnostic Team and an Operations Team

The Diagnostic Team would help the city of Memphis identify the factors that increase violent crime and what strategies can be implemented to address them.

The Operations Team would provide "rigorous training and coaching" for three years.

"They will help communities form a lasting coordination structure among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Among other things, Operations Teams will provide enhanced crime trend analysis and comprehensive gun-crime intelligence programs," Attorney General Sessions explained.

In all, 12 cities were selected to take part in the PSP: Memphis, Birmingham, Indianapolis, Toledo, Baton Rouge, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston, Jackson, Tennessee; Kansas City, Lansing and Springfield.

Mayor Jim Strickland said he hopes the new federal assistance will help combat the two problems that plague our city most.

“We have obviously a gang problem, a gun problem and that’s where this partnership really focuses on," he said.

The federal program aims to tackle violent crime in the country and focuses on investigating, prosecuting and deterring crime.

Memphis is one of twelve cities chose and one of four cities to get a three-year commitment where there will be training and funding assistance, along with an assigned liaison.

“It was an immediate relief knowing our partners are willing to step in and assist us in any way," said Deputy Director Mike Ryall with MPD.

City leaders said they’re waiting to hear more about the specifics of the program but are optimistic with what they know so far.

“They would help us in diagnostics, analyzing the information, and operationally, and I think that opens the door to grant our specific request for more manpower," said Strickland.

Leaders said they also hope it helps our multi-agency gang unit and implements tougher punishments for criminals.

“I’m hoping task forces will grow bigger with help from other partners and that we can drill down and isolate some of this heavy violent crime in a better investigative way so we can see some remedy and relief and some big punishment," said Ryall.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich released a statement saying, "We are grateful to Gen. Sessions for his interest and support in helping Memphis – and all of our cities – continue and expand the fight against violent crime. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners here to keep targeting gangs, drug traffickers and gun crimes. This federal assistance will help us in this daily fight against violent crime in the community and in the protection of every citizen’s right to be safe."

Tuesday morning, Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings released the following statement:

"I am pleased that Memphis was chosen as one of the 12 cities to join the Department of Justice’s National Public Safety Partnership (PSP). We asked for assistance; now, we are seeing a promising commitment that will be beneficial to the Memphis Police Department and the City of Memphis.

It is always a good day when the men and women of the Memphis Police Department receive additional resources to better serve our community. I look forward to continuing our efforts to reduce crime in the City of Memphis.”

The program was created after President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order charging the Department of Justice to lead an effort to reduce the violent crime nationwide.

Although a lot of people are excited, WREG did hear from councilmembers on Tuesday who said they’d rather see the resources go toward the root of the crime, like mentoring programs and education, instead of tougher punishments.