At press conference Thursday at City Hall, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton announced broad plans to wage a war on crime in the City of Memphis.
"Crime has reached an unacceptable level in our city," Herenton said. "I take full responsibility and accountability to do something about it."
The mayor said he wants to hire 500 new officers ,at a cost of $25 million in first year. He wants to put 150 more officers in the schools.
When asked where the money would come from, Herenton said he would immediately go to the city council to ask for a 50 cent property tax increase over the next two years.
In order to attract a bigger pool of police officers, the mayor said he wanted the Memphis residency requirement dropped for police officers, and he plans to offer incentives, like bonuses and help with college tuition. Herenton also suggested dropping the education requirement for police, saying he would hire an officer with a high school education.
The mayor also wants to add nine new mini precincts that will be fully staffed. Until the mayor can get the money to hire all new staff, he is authorizing the police director to allow a substancial increase in overtime for officers.
Notes from Mayor Herenton's speech:
-Police Recruitment: The Mayor will ask the City Council to support a referendum to allow voters to exempt officers from the residency requirement.
-Crime Prevention: The Mayor said the community must do more than lock up youth; it must instill a work ethic in young people. To increase crime prevention, the mayor says the community must make available 5,000 summer (some year-round) jobs for young people.
-Apprehension of Criminals: The Memphis Police Department must continue Operation Blue Crush. The MPD must hire 500 new officers an add 9 new mini police precincts. Another 150 officers should be added to public schools.