County Commission passes plan for county-wide effort on public safety

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Commissioners greenlit a plan to develop a county effort toward improving public safety in Memphis and Shelby County on Wednesday. Commissioners said they fear Memphis crime is getting in the way of growth in the area.

"We want our constituents to feel safe, and right now there's a question mark. Does everyone feel safe? My garage was broken into a few weeks ago," Shelby County Commissioner Melvin Burgess said.

Burgess said that's why he sponsored a resolution calling for a county-wide initiative to curb crime. The push would involve non-profits, religious groups, municipalities, courts, and include a focus on youth.

"We're asking the administration to reach out to the crime commission, collaborate with our business partners on Memphis Tomorrow and find out what's the solution," said Burgess.

County leaders have waded into talks on city crime in recent months, most notably by approving $3.2 million in the current year's budget for 25 sheriff's deputies to supplement the understaffed Memphis police force.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is expected to give a report soon on how that rollout would work and how to recruit the deputies to serve.

"It's a start. It's a start to collaborate," Burgess said.

A look at total homicide numbers in Memphis in 2017 shows 137 so far, according to MPD. That figure is compared to 154 this time last year. Memphis set a record in 2016 with 228 homicides.

"Crime is a big problem in Memphis, and quite candidly, if we don't get that fixed, get a grip on it--it's not going to help the community grow," said Steve Basar, a county commissioner who also co-sponsored the resolution.

The full commission is expected to approve the measure at their meeting on Monday.

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