C H U M N E Y C O M P R E H E N S I V E C R I M E P L A N
MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Consistency needs to be brought back to the Memphis Police Department. Restructuring and reorganizing of the police department will help give precinct inspectors the resources they need.
Currently, to follow up on a break-in it would be necessary to go down to the local precinct to speak with the officer who responded to the call. In order to speak with the investigator in charge of the case, it would then be necessary to travel downtown, which is where all the investigative bureaus are. This decentralized system makes it difficult to communicate, even within the police department.1
FILL OPEN POSITIONS
The current shortage of police officers requires that Memphis step up recruitment tactics. We must add signing bonuses to contracts in order to compete with comparable cities. The image of the Memphis Police Department will be supported so that potential recruits see the Memphis Police Department as a career choice. Promotions do not get made when they should, and the promotion process, on average, takes several years. The city should conduct a promotional process every year. These brave men and women need to get the promotions they deserve. After five to seven years in the department, a program should be phased in where take home squad cars will be an option to policemen and women who live in high crime areas. This increases the perceived police presence as citizens can see the squad cars parked outside homes and traveling to and from work. This also allows for better treatment of the squad cars, as they are personally taken care of and is a visual of advancement within the police department.
ENABLE PRECINCT INSPECTORS
There are over 100 uniformed police officers that have no patrol rotations. By placing just a small number of these officers in precincts where they are able to respond to calls and patrol the streets, Memphis will be able to expand its police presence. Precinct inspectors need more officers to deploy and patrol their districts. By reincorporating investigators into precincts, inspectors would have authority overlooking cases. This creates better communication within the department and allows the investigators a better understanding of the area where they are working on a case. Training police officers in code enforcement would also give precinct inspectors more power to cut crime in their precincts.
SUPPORT THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENT
The current education requirement that states a cadet must have 54 semester hours of college credit or 24 months of military experience cannot be compromised. Those who are in charge of keeping the streets safe in our city should have a solid education behind them. The city of Memphis should work towards higher standards in the police department, not fall backwards and eliminate current standards.
INSTITUTE A GRAFFITI HOTLINE
Camera phones make it easy for citizens to take a picture of the graffiti and text a message to the police department. A graffiti Internet hotline would allow members of the community to report graffiti via the Internet and attach a picture of the offending artwork. Along with a graffiti hotline, these avenues would open up communications between Memphians and the police department and encourage citizens to easily report such crimes.
EMPLOY STREET CAMERAS WITH GUN BOXES
Street cameras all over the United States have proven effective. They deter potential criminals because they are aware that although there may not always be a physical police presence, there are police officers watching. This also allows the police department to become proactive instead of reactive, because crime is deterred and police personnel are able to see crimes as they are committed to ensure a faster response time and increase chances of catching the criminals. Gun boxes are able to tell if a noise was a firecracker or a gunshot. Further, sophisticated gun boxes can often tell from what type of gun a shot was fired. Street cameras placed in high crime areas will be an asset to the community.
SUPPORT THE 15 POINT PLAN
The 15-point plan developed by law enforcement experts needs the full support of the community. It has proven to be effective, but would show even greater results if all of the programs were implemented. The “hands off” approach will no longer work, and programs such as JustCare 180o, which is a turnaround program for juvenile delinquents, cannot be left waiting to be launched.
CRACK DOWN ON MISDEMEANORS
While the clearance rate for homicide in Memphis was 81.8% in 2006, clearance rates for misdemeanors were much less impressive. The crime clearance rate in Memphis for aggravated assault was only 58% in 2006, along with 46% for sex crimes. Auto theft and burglary stayed in single digits with clearance rates of 8.2% and 9.73%, respectively. One way to reduce the number of homicides in an area is to increase the clearance rate of domestic violence cases. High clearance rates are reached for homicides because a team of five to six investigators works on each case. For most misdemeanors, one investigator is assigned, and normally each investigator has an overwhelming number of cases. An increase in investigators and bringing the investigators back into the precincts will help increase the clearance rate for misdemeanors.
PROMOTE INTERNET SAFETY
61% of 9 to 17 year olds use the Internet. The Internet can be a haven for sexual predators and cyber bullies. Cyber crime is a problem and is a serious issue that our children should be made aware of. It is important that children know how to stay safe on the Internet. When these issues do arise, both parents and authorities should be notified. Information on Internet safety should be spread through numerous channels including our schools, our Neighborhood Watch groups, and the Citizen’s Police Academy.
REVITALIZE NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
A review of all current neighborhood watch groups will ensure that they have updated material tips and tools for keeping neighborhoods safe. Participation in these groups and creation of new neighborhood watch groups in areas without the organization will be encouraged. This information will be spread through the Citizen’s Police Academy, the DARE educational programs, and public media releases about the status of the neighborhood watch organization. Any fading Neighborhood Watch Signs will be replaced as a sign of revitalization. Neighborhoods and the police department should work hand in hand to send the message that crime in Memphis will not be tolerated.
ENCOURAGE YOUTH PARTICIPATION
The Citizen’s Police Academy is a great resource for members of the community who want to learn about the inner working of the police department. Currently, classes in the Citizen’s Police Academy fill-up quickly and have great participation. There is a lack of younger participants in this program and youth should be encouraged to build good relationships with the Memphis PD and gain valuable knowledge in this area.
Problem properties encourage crime in the community. Neighborhood revitalization will not only hope reduce crime, but will encourage positive growth in Memphis.
CREATE COMMUNITY BOARD SYSTEM
Community Boards allow members of the community to be actively involved in dealing with land use, zoning matters, and other matters relating to the welfare of the community. These boards will not only report ordinance violations, but also work directly with city officials to make sure proper remedies occur.
AID NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIONS WITH ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT
One of the biggest barriers to effective neighborhood organizations is the lack of funding. Administrative support of space and resources in community centers and libraries will help them with their goals. Additional support can be provided with training materials and grants.
LAND BANK FOR GIFTS IN LIEU OF TAXES OF PROBLEM PROPERTIES
Problem properties are handed over freely to the city, and this gift aids in speeding up the process of acquiring land to save the time and expense of litigation.
IMPLEMENT PROPERTY TAX INITIATIVES FOR BLIGHTED AREAS
Property taxes freeze or rebate for residential and commercial development in blighted areas would stimulate development. Also, tax abatement for the problem properties that are demolished and replaced with new building by private investment is another tool that can act as a catalyst for growth in Memphis.
SPEED UP THE CDC FINANCING PROCESS
It is all too often that funds are approved for various projects and it takes months before these Community Development Corporations see any signs of their approved money. Approved funds should be available to Community Development Corporations within a week to ten days of approval.
POSITIVE CHOICES FOR YOUTH
The youth of Memphis cannot feel as if crime and gangs are their only alternative. Positive choices and healthy activities must be available to remove the youth of this city from harm’s way.
EXPAND EVENING ALTERNATIVES
Studies have proven that crime committed by children under the age of 18 peaks between the hours of 3pm and 9pm and on weekends. Monthly movie nights would provide a healthy alternative to potentially threatening evening activities for school-age children. Numerous community centers are only open until 2 PM on Saturdays. Keeping community centers open later on weekends will give our city’s youth a healthy environment to spend their time in during evening hours.
AMPLIFY WEEKEND ACTIVITIES
The addition of Saturday night basketball games, in collaboration with the Police Athletic League, would be a great and positive activity not only for those participating, but also for other members of the community who get to watch the game. Workshops by various groups and organizations would aid as imperative enrichment for youth. Presentations by the local EMS would potentially increase participation and fight the shortage of EMS workers currently faced by the community. Local health workers will also be invited to talk about healthy diets and eating habits. Builders associations will also be invited to work with the youth and teach them about work in their areas, which in turn gets the youth knowledge of more career possibilities. The city of Memphis is known for great music and local musicians will be invited to share with the community their inspirations and talents. Local artists will be invited to display their artwork. These events help encourage creativity in our youth.
CREATE SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUMMER CAMPS
It is necessary that all Memphis youth have a positive alternative to crime and negative behavior. The socioeconomic status of a family should not take away from these positive alternatives.
EXPAND THE YOUTH SUMMER EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
The national unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year olds has continued to rise in recent years. Our city can and will do more under any administration to expand the current summer employment program and give teenagers the opportunity to earn money in a healthy way during summer months.
CREATE YOUTH TEAMWORKS
Service learning increases awareness of community issues along with providing service and leadership activities. This organization would provide great volunteer opportunities for teens. It has potential to be able to direct the youth in a positive direction and provides for a basis for a positive connection between the youth of the city and other citizens.
ENRICH AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
An expansion of the Memphis after school programs would be an increase in positive opportunities for the youth of Memphis. After school programs provide valuable time with these children, it should be used to enrich them. The Youth Development Collaborative survey found that only 19% of children read for pleasure. Included in these “enrichment programs” would be various reading groups, book clubs, and arts and crafts activities, to encourage creativity. A tutoring program, which supports the current homework time we have set aside in current after school programs, would help stop students from falling behind. Various sports activities, to help combat childhood obesity and encourage healthy behavior, are also central in enriching after school activities.
ESTABLISH A MONTHLY MOVIE NIGHT
The creation of a Monthly Movie Night that is open to all students, not just those in the after school program, a healthy alternative to potentially threatening nighttime activities.
ENCOURAGE NONVIOLENT CONFLICT RESOLUTION
A survey put out by the Youth Development Collaborative shows that only 29% of Memphis and Shelby County seventh and eighth graders seek to resolve conflict peacefully. Nonviolent conflict resolution seminars and discussions must be held in schools to teach and encourage this sort of behavior.