Mayor Herenton holds State of Crime press conference - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Mayor Herenton holds State of Crime press conference

There's been an abundance of misleading information given to the citizens of Memphis about crime in Memphis. On Thursday, the Mayor offered his take on the city's war on crime.

One week after being re-elected Mayor, Willie Herenton outlined what he called an accurate picture of crime fighting in Memphis.

"As of today, crime is down 6.5 percent compared to 2006," says Herenton.

Herenton says through the first nine months of 2007, aggravated assaults are down ten percent. He also says there's been a twenty-two percent decrease in business robberies and a thirty-four percent decrease in carjackings.

According to the Mayor, homicides are down seven percent.

"Now, you might say to me Mayor someone was killed last night and that's probably true but statistically the homicide rate is down," adds Herenton.

Herenton credits programs like Blue Crush, the Memphis Police Department's data driven method for zeroing in on crime.

He adds, "We accept the responsibility of being a leader and developing plans to make this city safer."

Mayor Herenton also stressed that the majority of Memphis homicides this year were not random acts of violence.

"In seventy-percent of the reported homicides in 2007 the suspect and the victim were acquainted and in one percent they were related," adds Herenton.

The police department's Domestic Assault Response Team or D.A.R.T. provides counseling to victims of domestic violence helps them get shelter and protective orders.

MPD hopes to get grant money to hire more staff and possibly fund a nighttime domestic violence court.

"Try to stem the tide of this violence before it goes any further find out what are the root causes inside the family unit," says Sgt. Vince Higgins with Memphis Police Department.

But Memphis had a lot of making up to do since last year, when FBI crime numbers ranked the eight-county metropolitan area number one in the nation for violent crimes.

"The city of Memphis is not number one in crime," says Police Director Larry Godwin.

Godwin says 106 of this year's 128 homicides were considered criminal. The other 22 were justifiable.

The Mayor says their plan is working and they plan to do more.

There are also plans to expand the police department's CYBERWATCH online crime reporting system. A real time crime center is scheduled to open next month and the program will expand to other areas of Shelby County. And later, across state lines.

But the Mayor's report on crime didn't include how much more will cost or where the money will come from.

Click here to email Anna Marie Hartman.
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