MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is promising swift and bold action in response to the rash of homicides and outbreak of violence in downtown over the weekend.
His initiatives include more boots on the ground from other law enforcement departments.
City cops are partnering with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Sheriff’s Department to beef up patrols on the interstate and the Entertainment District.
The state said more state troops could be out on the interstates as soon as July 1 and the plan is for them to be here in the Memphis area for 120 days which is roughly four months.
MPD has been talking to the state about this for several weeks but after the tragedy over the weekend when an MPD officer was killed the mayor pledged his support too.
“It’s a little disheartening but we’re working at it,” said Avery Lash.
With 97 homicides so far this year in the city he grew up in, Lash said it will take any and all efforts at this point.
After facing criticism Mayor Jim Strickland listed a few changes he plans to make in an at times contentious news conference about fighting crime in Monday.
“In partnering with Sheriff’s Office, in partnering with TN Highway Patrol what I’m saying is swift and bold action,” explained Strickland.
On Tuesday, Bill Gibbons, the State Commissioner of Public Safety gave WREG the rundown for how changes will play out.
Hopefully by July 1 you will see more troopers on the interstate.
Gibbons said extra troopers will help for several reasons, so far this year Memphis has seen a 20% increase in the number of traffic fatalities compared to this time last year.
He also said the number of felony traffic stops across the state have also increased which means getting more criminals off the road, to not commit crime in our city.
“It’s because when we make these legitimate traffic stops we’re running across various criminal activities ranging from felons in possession of guns to drug trafficking,” he said.
Extra forces will be pulled from the interdiction and criminal investigative teams of THP.
How many extra troopers is unknown at this time.
The plan is for them to patrol for 120 days.
“We’re gonna see how it goes and make decisions from there,” said Gibbons.
As for the Entertainment District, on Tuesday the Sheriff’s Office would not or could not give details as to how they’ll be assisting MPD, but Strickland said expect to see more badges from their office helping out.
Lash said hopes the new policies are implemented properly.
“It depends where they’re stationed. I know you see a bunch of them on the corners like say there’s four police officers on the corner but they’re not in the nooks and crannies of Beale Street. I feel like they’re more on the main intersection. I feel like this is a case if you expanded that presence and made use of a few more areas it would help,” he said.
A spokesperson with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said the Sheriff is meeting with the Beale Street Merchants Association this week and we could see changes by this Friday.