Armstrong to bring community policing back to Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Armstrong to bring community policing back to Memphis

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says he's drawing a line in the sand and he plans to put boots on the street to back it up. He has a new community policing project and let Action News 5 Ursula Madden hit the streets with him to see how it works. Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says he's drawing a line in the sand and he plans to put boots on the street to back it up. He has a new community policing project and let Action News 5 Ursula Madden hit the streets with him to see how it works.

(WMC-TV) – Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says he's drawing a line in the sand and he plans to put boots on the street to back it up. He has a new community policing project and let Action News 5 Ursula Madden hit the streets with him to see how it works.

Teddy bears are hung on telephone poles on nearly every other block in one South Neighborhood. They quietly tell a story about crime in the area.

Armstrong says violent crime may be down, but not everyone sees or feels it in their neighborhood.

"I've had people say to me ‘Director Armstrong, when is the last time you drove through my community? How in the world can you drive through my community and tell me that crime is down 10 percent? What does that mean,'" he said. "(It's a) very valid point."

Armstrong is bringing back community policing to fight crime and try to restore neighborhoods plagued with blight, shootings, drugs and gangs, and he's starting in South Memphis.

Using I-240 and I -55 as boundaries on the east and west, Carolina Avenue and South Parkway on the north and south, Armstrong has reassigned roughly 60 Co-Act officers to the renewed community policing effort called COPS.

Armstrong says Co-Act didn't work, some of the stations weren't even manned, and officers couldn't be used outside the neighborhoods they were assigned to.

"We're going to draw a line in the sand, and we're basically going to say enough is enough," he said. "The days that you could stand on corners and freely sell drugs is over. The days where elderly people have to be held captive in their own homes, the days when parents are afraid to walk their kids home from school or allow them to play in the front yard - it's over."

The first component of community policing is getting criminals off the streets.

The next step requires officers to build relationships in the community.

On the day I was out with Armstrong, people in the neighborhood said they were eager to help.

The folks who run the M&R Grocery and Deli are trying to do their part.

They've opened a business on Trigg Avenue and are encouraged that the police director wants to help turn the neighborhood around.

The new community policing effort is now in effect and only time can tell if it works.

Armstrong said the department used data from its Blue Crush initiative to determine where to start.

He said data continues to show juveniles between 14 and 24 are driving crime statistics, as both suspects and victims.

On Action News Five at 6 a.m. Tuesday, we'll introduce you to some South Memphis home and business owners trying to turn around their neighborhood.

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