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U.S. Department says crime is down in Memphis, in part thanks to several programs aimed at the area

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local law enforcement agencies are praising new numbers showing crime in most major categories has dropped for two yea...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Local law enforcement agencies are praising new numbers showing crime in most major categories has dropped for two years in a row in Memphis.

In a news conference Friday, U.S. Attorney Mike Dunavant notedmultiple programs targeted to Memphis to decrease some of the most violentcrimes.

“We’re trending downward. People may not feel it, but Ifeel we’re getting better corporation. People are calling us, people areengaged with us. We are showing the public we are using their tax dollarswisely and I would hope they would believe it,” said Dunavant.

Memphis’ top brass are promising to continue pushingthe downward trend of reducing crime, but stress they can’t do it without thehelp of the community.

(DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE NEWS RELEASE) – We are pleased to join together today as the leaders of federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies in Memphis and Shelby County to announce the crime statistics for 2019 in the City of Memphis. Special thanks goes to Deputy Chief Don Crowe at the Memphis Police Department for compiling and making these crime statistics available for our use and analysis on a regular basis. As you will see from the reported numbers, we are pleased to announce that overall Part I crime decreased by 6.3% in all precincts of the city, and in most major categories. Violent crime also decreased by 8.2% in 2019, adding to a two-year total decrease of 13.1% since 2017. 

Whilenone of us can take individual credit for these positive public safety outcomes,these numbers represent the collective work, vision, collaboration, andcoordination of resources, specialties, and priorities of all of thelaw-enforcement agencies assembled here today. These significant decreases inmajor violent crime categories demonstrate that our policies, initiatives, andtask force models are working to target and remove the most violent and repeatoffenders from our community, which in turn improves overall public safety forlaw abiding citizens.

Threeyears ago, all of these agencies committed to participation in the PublicSafety Partnership, also known as PSP, where the Department of Justice providedtraining and technical assistance for us to develop data-driven best practicesand coordinated policies to drive down violent crime. We are now starting tosee the positive fruits of our labors, and these numbers are more than justtough on crime or smart on crime rhetoric. These quantitative measuresrepresent real lives saved, real victims avoided, and better quality of lifefor citizens, neighborhoods, and businesses in Memphis. To quote the Mayor,Memphis has Momentum in many areas, and now that momentum includes violent andoverall crime reduction in a sustained and meaningful way. The anecdotalstories of crime that we often tell are now confirmed by the statisticalresults of our labor. 

Reducingviolent crime requires comprehensive and collaborative strategies. It alsotakes courage from all law enforcement agencies to find solutions that work,and commitment to follow through with them with sustainable approaches andlong-term investments. This group of law enforcement leaders has done justthat. 

Whenarmed carjacking incidents spiked in Memphis and Shelby County over 65% in late2017, we launched the Carjacking Initiative to coordinate investigations andprosecutions, and as a result, carjacking incidents have decreased this pastyear by 12.1%.

TheFBI Safe Streets Task Force has gotten back to the basics of response to andinvestigation of armed bank and business robberies, dramatically increasing theclearance rate of those cases. As a result, the incident rate of businessrobberies declined by 25.8% in 2019.

InAugust, 2019, the U.S. Marshals Service conducted a joint initiative with allof these agencies known as “Operation Bluff City Blues”, which arrested 214fugitives, many of whom had outstanding warrants for violent crimes. Thatsuccessful operation included a total of 79 identified gang members, 65individuals for aggravated assault, 34 individuals for homicide, 69 individualsfor weapons offenses, and 40 individuals for drug offenses. 

Overthe last 2 years, the Department of Justice has invested resources into Memphisto combat violent crime, and we are using them effectively. The ATF has establisheda Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) to use the technology of the NationalIntegrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to better respond to, solve,and correlate shooting incidents. The ATF has also added new agents to the GunStrike Force, who is working with the Multi-Agency Gang Unit (MGU) to disruptand dismantle criminal gangs and remove violent offenders from the streets ofMemphis.

Becausewe know that violent crime is often associated with and motivated by drugtrafficking activities, we have partnered with the DEA and the Memphis PoliceDepartment Organized Crime Unit in our Heroin Initiative to identify and stopthe source of supply, punish and deter heroin and fentanyl dealers, prevent newusers, refer addicts to treatment, deploy Narcan to hotspots, and save lives.

Ourreinvigorated Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Task force is continuing theirgreat work in coordinating and prioritizing firearms offenses for aggressiveprosecutions, which take guns out of the hands of dangerous and violentoffenders.

In anew approach led by the District Attorney’s Office that is already payingdividends, we have fully committed to “Operation Comeback,” a focuseddeterrence crime-reduction strategy in which carefully selected high-riskoffenders are advised of swift, severe and certain punishment for continuedcriminal behavior, while at the same time being offered social services such asjob training, education, housing assistance, drug and alcohol treatment,counseling, life skills and anger management.

Andfinally, our newest initiative, “Operation Relentless Pursuit”, will surge newfederal resources and agents into Memphis to further reduce violent crime. As aresult of federal grant funding, Memphis and Shelby County will be able to hiremore officers, obtain new technology, training, vehicles, and other personnel,and assign more officers to federal task forces to effectively target violentoffenders and hot spots. The first phase of the operation is being led by theU.S. Marshals Service, and the name of the operation speaks directly to itsproactive nature and sustained duration. 

Ourreturn to proven law enforcement policies and our adoption of new initiativesand resources is working. Here in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we havedramatically increased our output in the number of firearms, violent crime,drug and gang prosecutions over the last 2 years, and the welcome outcome hasbeen improved public safety. Putting the right people in prison incapacitatesthe most violent offenders, upholds the rule of law, deters criminal conductwith a strong message of significant consequences, and makes us all safer.

Whilemany persistent violent crime challenges remain and much work is still neededin these areas, we are optimistic about these downward trends in crime, and welook forward to continuing to implement effective strategies with resolve andcommitment to public safety in Memphis and Shelby County.