MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee Highway Patrol will bring 30 extra state troopers to Memphis for a new operation they hope will help decrease road rage shootings that have plagued Memphis-area interstates this year.
THP and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Operation Grizzly Bear on Wednesday. Strickland described the partnership between the state police, Memphis Police and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office as an “all hands on deck approach” to curb the recent rash of road rage.
“When violent acts like this happen, just like you, it makes me angry,” Strickland said of the shootings. “I am absolutely fed up with seeing it as the lead on the news and reading it in newspapers. I am fed up with our citizens not feeling safe.”
So far in 2019, there have been 32 shooting events on the city’s interstate loop and Highway 385, Memphis Police said.
Police said some of the shootings were road rage, while others may be the result of violence that begins in neighborhoods, then carries over into roadways.
Operation Grizzly Bear will last six weeks, after which they will review data to see whether it decreased shootings. THP will supplement local law enforcement using marked and unmarked patrol units from noon to 3 a.m. on the I-40/240 loop as well as Highway 385, THP said.
Strickland said the city has been working for months to change laws at the state level to increase penalties for road-rage shootings, and city leaders will return to Nashville this year to try to get those passed. Local law enforcement has already increased its presence on the interstates.