Strickland: Memphis asking for more state troopers on city interstates

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis is asking the state for a permanent presence from the Tennessee Highway Patrol to keep local interstates safe, Mayor Jim Strickland said.

On July 17, following a series of shootings, city and state authorities announced that THP and Shelby County deputies would temporarily help the city increase patrols on the interstate loop for six weeks. At the time, there were 32 known shootings on Memphis and Shelby County highways and interstates, some from road rage and others blamed on violence in neighborhoods that spilled onto roadways.

Strickland, speaking on WREG's "Live At 9" program Wednesday, said he thinks the problem deserves more resources.

"What we're asking the state for is a permanent presence of Tennessee Highway Patrol in Memphis and Shelby County," he said. "We had way too many shootings in the first six months of this year."

Strickland said the temporary increased presence had dramatically decreased shootings on local highways. A check of the WREG archives shows only one other shooting, at I-40 and Appling, reported since July 17.

Strickland also noted the city will try again to encourage the state legislature to pass a law increasing penalties for road-rage shootings.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office is assisting in patrols on the interstates and working with Strickland's task force.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner noted that Knoxville had only seen two interstate shootings this year, the last time he talked to officials in that city. He encouraged drivers in the left lane to move right and let traffic flow if they are driving slowly.

"We're doing all we can to stop this," Bonner said.

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