Officials tout 2019 stats showing violent crime decrease in Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Part 1 crimes like murder, robbery, burglary, carjacking and rape in Memphis decreased more than 6% in 2019, local and federal law enforcement partners announced Friday.

Violent crimes were reduced more than 8%, though officials acknowledged a slight increase in the number of murders. There were 191 murders in the city last year, versus 186 in 2018.

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Officials were discouraged but not defeated by the high rate of what they call “the most heinous” of crimes.

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said, "One murder is one too many. We’re going to do everything that we can to work with the community and law enforcement.”

Eight different agencies appeared today to summarize 2019, including the FBI, US Marshals, MPD and Shelby County Sheriff’S Office. They shared credit for the progress.

"We're optimistic about these downturns in crime," said U.S. District Attorney Michael Dunavant. "These numbers represent the collective work, vision, collaboration and coordination of resources, specialties and priorities of all the law enforcement leadership that you see at the table.”

Rallings agreed that the positive numbers showed law enforcement efforts were making a difference.

"We just want to have more positive stories. We want to talk more about what we're doing to try to make a difference," Rallings said.

Still, District Attorney Amy Weirich also noted that juvenile crime had increased. Numbers released late last year showed a 58% increase in those juvenile crimes at that point.

Dunavant said Memphis has been the target of federal funding for crime prevention recently. U.S. Attorney General William Barr came to Memphis last year to announce a new plan to reduce gun violence.

"We're now much more robust in solving and responding to gun crime than ever before," he said.

Asked about the public's perception of crime in Memphis, Dunavant responded, "I would tell you that a lot of the public's perception about crime is dictated by you people behind the cameras."

Although overall crime is decreasing, they are targeting more progress for the upcoming year.

“We’re gonna keep working," Weirich said. "We’re gonna keep working harder than we did today, so that sense of safety is deeper and broader.”


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