Blue Crush cuts debate heats up at City Hall - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Blue Crush cuts debate heats up at City Hall

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(WMC-TV) - Fireworks flew at City Hall Tuesday over cuts to the Operation Blue Crush crime fighting initiative, amid a spike in violent crime.

The showdown was tame at the beginning.

Crime Commission Chairman Ben Adams explained why he sent the mayor the letter that launched the Blue Crush firestorm.

"Our concern it was not being fully implemented," said Adams.

Operation Blue Crush is a research driven street operation that identifies crime hot spots in the area. Those areas are then saturated with law enforcement resources. It has been in place for more than seven years.

Adams linked the spike in violent crime with cuts to the Blue Crush program.

Police Director Toney Armstrong said Blue Crush is not in the city budget and it is funded by overtime.

He said he needed the money to keep the department afloat.

"So yes, that was an executive decision made by me," said Director Armstrong.

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove called Armstrong the fall-guy.

"Why are they messing with you and putting handcuffs on you and not allowing you to do the job you were asked to do?" asked Fullilove.

The previous police director did not report 60,000. They were written up as memos instead.

Councilmen Jim Strickland and Joe Brown blamed the mayor.

"Why did Mayor Wharton say Blue Crush was operating in the same manor it had, when it wasn't?" asked Strickland.

Councilman Brown added, "You can't get the money, you can't get the money, the director can't get the money unless it's approved to come down to the legislators, approved by the mayor."

Everyone involved in the debate will digest the information brought forth Tuesday and come back for another discussion in two weeks.

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