Officials to consider resolution to merge law enforcement agencies

City and county leaders have never been able to agree on merging their two governments, but an alarming increase in violent crime is forcing them to take another look at an historically heated topic.

With crime at a crisis level, Memphis and Shelby County leaders are exploring ways to bring safety back to the streets.

"We cannot continue to fight crime tomorrow the same way we've fought crime for the last 50 years," said city council member Myron Lowery.

In the coming weeks, leaders from city and county government will consider the option of consolidating the Shelby County Sheriff's Department and the Memphis Police Department.

"We need to have a real conversation, a real look at all the options on the table for dealing with our crime problem," said Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter.

If both governments can agree on this joint resolution, a blue ribbon panel would spend the next six months studying whether or not combining forces is the best way to combat crime.

"I do think that, considering the changing demographics in our county, that a review of our procedures is appropriate," said Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell.

Consolidation has been a politically charged issue in the past.  Some say, with the public's safety at stake, it is time to overcome those differences.

The resolution has several political hurdles to clear.  It will go before a county law enforcement committee Monday, and the Shelby County Public Safety committee on June 19.

If the resolution passes, the law enforcement consolidation study should be completed in Mid-December.

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