MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor Jim Strickland joined us on Thursday to discuss recent issues that many Memphis citizens are worried about.
Some Memphians are concerned about the increased crime rate, while others are worried about the COVID-19 pandemic and mask mandates.
While these concerns have been ongoing, the most recent issue occurred last week when over 120,000 residents were without power for days after an ice storm moved through the Mid-South
Mayor Strickland addressed these concerns and more on Live at 9 Wednesday.
He first addressed his push to remove residency requirements for public safety officers. It’s something that he has recommended for over 10 years.
It was finally taken into consideration at the Tennessee State Capitol this week. The bill cleared a house subcommittee. It would only apply to Memphis.
He stated that data showed that the crime rate will lower if more officers were added.
“We have to extend beyond the county to be able to hire. Almost every big city has expanded residency. They don’t have these restrictions. It’s basically asking Police Chief Davis to fight crime with one arm tied behind her back.”
MPD has kept around 2,210 officers for a couple years but Strickland says they need at least 2500. He says that while increasing officers is not the only thing that can drive a crime rate down now, it is an important key piece.
Mayor Strickland said the rise in violent crime has caused a need for state help, but he doesn’t agree with the state being able to mandate what local municipalities can do regarding COVID-19.
“I don’t really like state government or even federal government coming down here and preempting our our local decision making”
He says when it comes to mask mandates, the council could have resolved the ongoing issues if they would have let the public vote, but it was pulled off the ballot two years ago.
In addition to voting, Mayor Strickland said a public vote needs to be required in order to improve Memphis’ infrastructure to avoid major power outages during severe storms.
About 37,000 customers were still without power on Wednesday following last week’s storm.
“I am very concerned about those 37,000 [people] and I understand the complete frustration”
He says MLGW is working night and day to restore power and believes he knows what could prevent this in the future.
“I think we ought to have a robust community-wide conversation about the true fix to this issue and that is burying the lines underground.”
Strickland says the switch would be expensive, but feels that it is a conversation that the public needs to have to prevent future power outages.