MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A group of Memphis clergy gathered Tuesday in support of changing the police department’s residency requirements to allow applicants who live outside city limits.
Last week, the Memphis City Council voted not to include a referendum on the November ballot that would’ve allowed MPD officers to live up to two hours outside Memphis city limits.
Pastor Walter Womack, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Memphis chapter, said Tuesday Memphis has a well-known crime problem, and in order to fight the violence the city must taken an open-minded approach to recruiting qualified officers.
“Every day we see the news,” said Womack, pastor of Faithful Baptist Church. “Our kids are being killed at an alarming rate.”
To citizens who say Memphis has enough police officers, Womack says the city has to get the crime situation under control, which is why the SCLC Memphis chapter stands in support of amending the department’s residency requirements.
Womack said he understands there is a direct correlation between poverty and crime but says it doesn’t give anyone a license to kill.
“High crime does nothing to promote Memphis,” said Womack. “If we want to see major companies come to Memphis and offer more job opportunities to the citizens here, then we’ve got to get a handle on this crime.”
The group said they are working on a comprehensive strategy to address Memphis’ crime. They plan to present it to city councilors in the future.