Gov. Bill Lee addresses Memphis highway shootings as they hit 39

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Governor Bill Lee said he met with state officials Wednesday to discuss Memphis’ highway shootings.  

As of Friday afternoon, Memphis Police say there have been 39 shootings on the city’s highways since the start of the year.  

Memphis broke records in 2020 with 80 highway shootings, up from the 46 shootings recorded in 2019.  

“I actually sat with the head of the Department of Safety just two days ago and talked specifically about this issue, what do we know about it, what is the frequency, what is the trooper rate in this region,” Lee said during a visit to Memphis Friday. 

In March, then-MPD Director Michael Rallings called on the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which is overseen by Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security, to increase its patrols on Memphis highways.  

On April 1, Rallings told WREG that MPD still hadn’t gotten the patrols it was asking for ,and THP repeatedly avoided answering WREG’s questions about if patrols would be increased.  

Friday, THP’s Col. Matt Perry seemed to suggest the agency wasn’t aware of a request from MPD for extra patrols, but THP didn’t return a subsequent email seeking clarification.  

After weeks of silence, it finally appeared Friday that THP did step up patrols in the Memphis area.  

“We have extra troopers working there weekly right now, and hopefully we’ve got a cadet class in the process. So hopefully we’ll get a whole lot of new troopers out on the road and be able to provide even more support,” said Perry.  

It’s still unclear how many extra troopers are patrolling Memphis highways and whether this was in response to MPD’s request.  

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