Memphis - Top brass from Memphis, Shelby County, and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security met with over one hundred members of the community to tackle a top priority: crime.
"We do not accept the level of violence in our city and neither should you," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland who jump-started the town hall meeting.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell spoke about changes in crime and the goals of the group.
"It is important that we gather together periodically assess where we have been and try to establish a vision for where we want to go."
The Memphis Shelby Crime Commission hosted the 2 hour meeting held at Lemoyne Owen College. After opening remarks, eleven break out groups discussed separate crime-related topics ranging from citizen involvement to gang activity to police strategies.
"When you look at her violent crime rate in particular it's driven by a couple factors; drug trafficking, gang activity, and domestic violence," said Bill Gibbons, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
Gibbons also identified MPD's shortage of officers as a factor in the recent spike in crime.
"We've had a net loss of almost 400 police officers that's having an impact," he said.
An impact Strickland says he is managing.
"What we're doing right now is we have more police officers on the streets than when I took over on January first. We reorganized the multi agency gang task force and put more officers there," he said.
Memphis Police Department Interim Director Michael Rallings spoke to Local 24 News about one of the Department's biggest hurdles.
"We just started a class with 35 officers and I wanted 100 so kicking off our ad campaign, trying to recruit some more qualified young men and women, and obviously retaining our officers is a top priority."
The eleven break out groups included members of the community, businesses, and government representatives. Each group identified the top three problems under each topic, as well as corresponding solutions, and available resources.
" Our goal is to have a wraparound plan that addresses each one of those issues and these workshops are part of that wraparound plan," said Harold Collins, former city councilman and leader of the Operation Safe Community initiative.
According to Collins, the wrap around plan will be relied on by Operation Safe Community, a crime fighting initiative. In turn, the plan will help guide crime fighting efforts by the city, county, and community over the next five years.
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