Mayoral candidate Herman Morris issues challenge to Herenton

One of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's opponents in the race for Mayor has issued a strong challenge to a comment Herenton made in July.

"You won't find a mayor that's tougher on crime," said Herenton in July.

Now, mayoral candidate Herman Morris is on the attack against Herenton because Morris says crime is out of control in Memphis and Herenton is to blame for it.

Now, Morris has an ad aimed squarely at the Memphis Mayor. "Dr. Herenton recently said "no mayor in any American city can solve the crime problem," says Morris.

In his latest campaign ad Morris questions Herenton's commitment to fighting crime in Memphis. "And to say that its not the mayor's job to deal with crime, I think is another indication that he's not made it the kind priority it needs to be," adds Morris.

Morris says his ad is more about facts than an attack.

We went to the Shelby County Crime Commission to track the crime statistics during much of Herenton's tenure.

"You know in the mid-90's crime was actually higher than it is right now per 100,000 people," says Crime Analyst Tom Kirby.

But the crime rate in Memphis today is considerably higher than it was six years ago.

In 1996, there were almost 2000 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Memphis. And more than 9,000 property crimes.

The crime rate went down in 1999 when there were about 1400 violent crimes per 100,000 residents and almost 7000 property crimes.

But in 2005, the numbers spiked again. More than 1800 violent crimes more than 8000 property crimes.

Morris says, if elected, he could lower the crime rate by ten percent in four years. It's a subject he'd like to discuss with Herenton publicly.

"And if you change your mind about debating Doc, I'll be waiting," says Morris.

We were hoping to hear Mayor Willie Herenton's response to Morris's ad. His spokesperson says that the Mayor would have no comment.


to email Anna Marie Hartman.