Memphis appeals to governor for extra patrols as city hits 36 highway shootings

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – After appeals to the Tennessee Highway Patrol have fallen on deaf ears, the Memphis Police Department said it is now asking the governor to divert more state troopers to Memphis highways.  

So far this year, Memphis has recorded 36 highway shootings, nearly half the total for all of 2020.  

Tuesday at around 6:30 p.m., a car was hit by two bullets while driving on I-40 near Appling. The driver wasn’t injured.  

For the last two years, Memphis police have been maintaining a presence on highways to discourage shootings and recently stepped up patrols even further. 

“We are pulling people from neighborhoods to put them on the interstate,” MPD Director Michael Rallings said last week.  

Last week, Rallings called on the Tennessee Highway Patrol to help MPD with extra patrols. WREG asked THP if it planned to do this. In response, the agency said it will “continue to maintain high visibility across Tennessee, including interstates in Memphis.”  

“We’ve been asking for support for a long time. We haven’t got what we wanted,” said Rallings.

Rallings said Thursday that he’ll now focus on asking the governor’s office to bring extra patrols to Memphis, acknowledging that THP has limited resources. 

“I know they’re strapped by resources, but I think the governor is positioned to order THP to hire the additional staff they need to give Shelby County the attention that we deserve,” Rallings said.  

WREG reached out to Governor Bill Lee’s office Friday but hasn’t heard back.  

Of this year’s 36 highway shootings, police say they have made four arrests and issued two warrants.  

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