Memphis leaders release 5-year plan to combat crime

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. --Keeping people under 18 out of jail and hiring more police officers is the goal of a new crime prevention plan released by Memphis officials on Tuesday.

Officials who represent Memphis City Hall and statewide told WREG they know crime is the biggest problem facing the city. They said they`ve finally come up with a new way forward to help fix the problem.

"The plan you have in front of you is perhaps the most thoughtful and comprehensive approach to fighting crime that this community has ever designed," said District Attorney Amy Weirich.

The Memphis-Shelby County Crime Commission released its 5-year plan and the focus is to reduce the overall crime rate by 25 percent and violent crime by 30 percent. It`s the third plan of its kind. Officials admitted they haven`t always been successful.

"It`s been progress, it`s been up and down, but it`s been progress. Hopefully we can continue to see a level of progress as we move forward," said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said hiring more police officers is at the top of his list. He said Memphis had more applicants this year than in years past, but they still need to get the force from less than 2,000 up to 2,500.

"We`ve done a lot on retention of current officers with pay raises, improved benefits, down payment assistance programs."

Officials also said keeping young people in school and out of prison will be a focus.

"We`re looking at smarter, more effective ways to deal with juvenile offenders to keep them out of the adult correction system," said Senator Mark Norris.