MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Wednesday afternoon, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis announced they'll spend unused federal funds to combat violent crime, hire more intervention workers, and bulk up re-entry programs in the months ahead.
The city is following new White House guidance of being able to spend federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) money on local anti-violence initiatives.
"This announcement by the White House and President Biden is welcome news and certainly couldn't have come at a better time," Chief Davis said.
On top of that, the White House pointed to Memphis as one of 15 U.S. cities "to use a portion of their ARP funding or other public funding to increase investment in their CVI infrastructure, including to anticipate and respond to the potential rise in violence this summer."
Mayor Strickland said the city of Memphis has about $160 million total provided in the ARP, $80 million of which they've received already, the other $80 million the city will be able to spend across the next year.
"These funds that we are talking about today will allow us to make significant strides in taking a holistic approach to address public safety in our city - by increasing funds for training, for more community policing, more youth programs, more money for our new Group Violence Intervention Program, and more money for second chance programs," Mayor Strickland said.
The commitment in federal assistance is also expected to allow for hiring more Memphis Police officers and help cover overtime costs for MPD.
The federal partners with the ATF and DEA will also be able to assist Memphis more with crime fighting efforts.
"We have a plan to address the decades old issue with public safety in our community and with these funds it will allow us to fully implement and work that plan," Mayor Strickland said.
The new development came as Tennessee becomes an 'open carry' state July 1st, a move previously opposed by Mayor Strickland and MPD.
"We are very concerned about gun violence in our community and this legislation that provides more flexibility for individuals who would commit a crime to actually open carry as well, so they'll be additional training, roll call training," Chief Davis.
President Joe Biden is addressing the nation Wednesday afternoon about how the "Administration is moving decisively to act with a whole-of-government approach as we enter the summer months when cities typically experience a spike in violence."
The city of Memphis set a new record high of homicides in 2020 and Chief Davis said the city is dealing with higher than national average upticks in homicides and gun assaults so far in 2021.