Community steps to help fight crime after public safety funding - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Community steps up to help fight crime

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(WMC-TV) - Some citizens are stepping up to help fight crime as the City of Memphis grapples with public safety funding issues.

This comes amid concerns that overtime cuts is putting a longtime crime fighting program in jeopardy.

This week, the Memphis City Council could see spirited debate on why the city scaled back the Blue Crush program - where data identifies crime hotspots and police saturate those areas.

But while discussions are underway, some citizens are taking matters into their own hands.

Memphis Councilman Jim Strickland commends three groups of citizens for donating thousands of dollars to the city to fight crime.

"It shows you that people think public safety is their top priority," he said.

Strickland is the most vocal councilman to publicly criticize the city for cutting overtime that stopped officers from saturating crime hot spots.

He's equally as supportive of the citizens' effort.

"They see a specific need that they want and they donate to the city.  I think that's fantastic," said Strickland. 

The Southern Heritage Foundation is donating $10,000 to crime prevention.

Fred Jones, founder of the Southern Heritage Classic, declined an interview - saying the foundation doesn't seek publicity for philanthropy.

Fred's Super Dollar also declined the attention for the more than $800 they're donating to the Mount Moriah and Tillman precincts.

Red Acres Neighborhood Association is donating $300 to the Tillman precinct.

They too did not interview.

"This has been a challenging year," said Memphis Police Department director Toney Armstrong 

Armstrong said a million bucks in mandatory upgrades caused the cuts, but they never abandoned Blue Crush.

"I would never get away from something that's been effective," he said. 

Strickland isn't buying it.

"Why wouldn't you come to the council and say, 'hey look, we've had this issue come up.  We need more money to continue Blue Crush,'" he said. 

Armstrong said crime went down the last six months and Blue Crush is fully restored.

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