Police report rise in violent crimes in Downtown Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis city leaders brag downtown is one of the safest ZIP codes, but is that actually the case?

For years, city leaders have said downtown’s ZIP code, 38103, is one of the safest. Renovations started at the convention center, developers are pumping millions of dollars into new hotels and projects, more businesses are opening up, and thousands more people are set to move in.

MPD reports total crime in 38103 is the lowest it’s been since 2016.

But police report a steady increase in violent crime. There were 225 reports of violent crimes in 38103 in 2018, up from 189 two years before.

We told you about some of those incidents in 2018 like when a father of three claimed he was robbed at gunpoint on Beale Street in October or when five people were injured during a shooting inside a night club near Beale in September.

That same month, the Memphis Chamber of Commerce CEO Phil Trenary was shot and killed on South Front Street just walking home.

WREG asked some people who spend time downtown what they thought.

“A lot of the Blue Suede (Brigade) people walking around. They do a good job,” said visitor Clay Rose. He and others picked up on the police presence and mounted cameras.

“I’ve been living down here since 2014,” said Kerry “KT” Taylor. “A lot of police 24 hours a day. A lot of officers downtown. Watching on every corner.”

“I come down here to the bank. Stuff like that,” said visitor Shirley Patrick. “When I come downtown, I do what I need to do and be gone.”

Some told us they are concerned.

“As a woman, yes, it is (concerning). I try not to think about it. We usually travel. If we take a lunch break we try to go in twos,” said Savannah Hallmark, who works downtown.

We asked the Downtown Memphis Commission about the data, but instead, they told us to contact the police department.

MPD only talked to us off-camera. They told us they use technology, extra patrols and other footprints of MPD like the organized crime unit to combat crime.

They also said they’ve made progress on Mud Island but are focusing more attention in the South Main area.

WREG also reached out to various neighborhoods in the 38103 area. South Main Association said they have noticed an uptick in crime and meet with police regularly to talk about it.

“I see them on bikes and cars. Stuff like that. Make sure nothing is going to happen,” said Patrick.

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