MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The increase in interstate shootings across Memphis and Shelby County has gained attention from state and local leaders.
The governor, mayor and police leaders have all been vocal about what needs to be done to address this growing issue. Our state and local leaders agree on making our interstates safer is a top priority for them.
Last year, interstate shootings in Memphis saw record levels. This year those numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction, with at least 39 so far.
Last week, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland told us support from the Tennessee Highway Patrol would help.
“We want that permanent presence. I think if we can get a permanent presence on the I-40, I-240 loop, I think you’re going to see those interstate shootings go down,” Strickland said.
While the Highway Patrol says it has not received a formal request for that presence, it’s already shifted more resources to Memphis.
But the City of Memphis disputes that claim. Ursula Madden, Chief Communications Officer, released the following statement.
“Over the past five years, both the mayor and police director have repeatedly asked Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), the governor’s office, and state legislators to ensure safety on the state-managed interstates in Memphis and Shelby County.
Even without those attempts, THP should not need a formal request to manage what is already a part of their responsibility.”Ursula Madden, Chief Communications Officer
Last November, the THP created a task force in response to the increase in shootings and deadly crashes in our area.
“Every week, we have troopers now that are just dedicated to kind of the 240/40 loop to make a high volume of traffic stops and be seen and visible,” Col. Matt Perry, of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said.
Troopers say when they started partnering with law enforcement here five years ago, they would saturate the highways for just a couple of weeks at a time but since December, they’ve been here full-time.
“We just threw a little bit more resources on a weekly basis. So we started bringing anywhere from 6-12 troopers just depending on availability,” Perry said.
Those troopers come from the 53 that serve this region made up of 10 counties. The idea is to deter criminal activity, keep you safe, and assist local law enforcement trying to do the same.
“No singular agency can solve every problem we all have in our jurisdiction,” Perry said.
A Highway Patrol spokesperson says there’s no end date on the increased presence here.
They ask you to call star T-H-P if you see traffic incidents that aren’t life threatening.