Violent crime is rising in Shelby County - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Crime rate special explainer

Violent crime is rising in 2014

Memphis and Shelby County's violent crime trend proved to be on a downward trend until new numbers for 2014 showed otherwise. According to the local initiative Operation: Safe Community (OSU), property crime and domestic violence statistics remain on the decline in Shelby County, but violent crime is rising.

OSU measures their reports with crime rates based on offenses per 100,000 population. Major violent crimes—up nearly six percent—include murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. In Shelby County, the biggest increase in major violent crime: a rate shift from 7.8 to 8.5 in murder, which caused a change of 9.6 percent from 2013 to 2014.

How to use this interactive: hover your mouse or click on a point above the year to read specifics about the crime rate (information will pop up in a bubble).

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However, the combined rate for major violent crimes sits lower by 18.6 percent county-wide when compared to the baseline in 2006

"We are concerned about the increase in reported major violent crimes," OCU chair and Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

"It points out the importance of continuing to focus on those parts of the Operation Safe Community plan designed to curb violent street crime, in particular, data-driven deployment of police resources to areas of high rates of youth crime."

OCU's action agenda for 2012 to 2016 established a special new focus on youth violence prevention and intervention. The plan continues to push strategies for how law enforcement can effectively put a dent in crime.

Spearheaded by Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, OCU launched in 2006 with an ambitious goal to make Memphis one of the safest communities in the nation. While that was not achieved, the group says a dramatic reduction of violent crime has been reached. See comparisons in the chart below; hover your mouse or click on a point above the year to read specifics about the crime rate.

Crime rate special explainer

Although not a violent crime, the theft crime rate continues to top all others in Shelby County. Burglary and motor vehicle theft are among major property crimes, but officials count simple assault, drug/narcotic violations, weapon law violations, and domestic violence in their crime trend report.

The break down of all offenses in OCU's report can be seen in the chart below. Click or hover over a slice to read specifics about the crime rates.

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Gibbons says the decline in domestic violence encourages OCU and other law enforcement.

"We hope the decline in reported domestic violence offenses is a sign that state and local efforts to address this problem are paying off,” he said.

The report showed reported domestic violence crime is down 7.2 percent in the county and 7.8 percent in Memphis from 2013. Offenses include homicides, all assaults, kidnapping/abduction, and all forcible and non-forcible sex offenses.

In the aforementioned action agenda, the first goal listed focuses on reducing violence in the home.

Officials are additionally motivated by the continued decline in reported major property crime, which is down 5.5 percent in the county and 5.4 percent in Memphis. See the breakdown of 2014 Shelby County property crime offenses below.

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Regardless of when it comes to decreases and increases in city crime, experts say to always be aware of your surroundings in order to avoid becoming a victim.

Protecting yourself from a crime can be as simple as starting with what's on your keys, but other items—stun gun, mace, or pepper spray—can aid you in defense. Keep in mind, those methods don't always work.

"You've got to be very close to somebody in order for them to be affected by it. And sometimes people won't be as hurt by it and it's just gonna make them mad. So you want something that's gonna work for you and get you out of that situation," Julie Hill, owner of Arms Fair Gun Shop, told WMC Action News 5 in a defense video.

Experts say escaping an attack starts with being prepared and having a plan. Below are some educational reports from WMC Action News 5, click headline to read or watch:

Police say citizens can do their part to reduce crime by reporting it. If you have any information on any offenses, call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH (2274), text 'AWARD' to 274637, or visit

Charts by Ashli Blow and Cameron Clinard contributed to this report. // Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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