MEMPHIS, Tenn — Federal, state and local leaders all met for a closed public safety summit Thursday to discuss possible solutions to crime, and much of that discussion seems to have centered around dealing with violent repeat offenders.
“We all have recognized that we have a serious crime problem," Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said following Thursday’s summit. "We have a crime crisis right now and it requires an all hands on deck approach to tackle the problem.”
The city is averaging one homicide a day. There have more than 10,000 stolen or burglarized vehicles and major property crime has increased to 42% in Shelby County.
Business owners are now chiming in on their concerns.
“We want people to come down — we want them to feel comfortable," Joe Calhoun the curator of the Withers Collection in Downtown Memphis said. "We want them to feel safe."
Leaders that attended the closed-door crime summit didn't share many specifics. Still, Mulroy said city, county and state leaders discussed the court system as well as data-sharing between departments and how to tackle some of the environmental challenges that lead to crime “hot spots.”
“Not every one of these things will be able to be done overnight," Mulroy said. "We hope we’ll be able to implement some of these things in a 6-to-18-month timeframe.”
And as the city waits for results from law enforcement officials, some businesses worry about the impact ongoing violent crime and theft could have on foot traffic to their establishments.
“When things happen downtown their point of reference is usually Beale Street, whether it happens on Beale Street or not," Calhoun said. “It does potentially push people a little further out."
Calhoun is referencing recent shootings on Beale Street and the surrounding downtown area.
Calhoun is hopeful authorities work to strictly enforce safe storage laws recently passed by the state legislature. He said guns both for profit and for homicide are a major driver of crime.
“The open carry law and the permitless carry law those are what are hurting us," Calhoun said. “People get wand-ed before they come to Beale street; they get wand-ed before they go into the Fedex Forum and if the cars are parked on the street, most of the time they just put the guns in their car.”