MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - City leaders hope 2021 is nothing like 2020 for several reasons, including crime.
It’s not just homicides, but other types of crime they’re concerned about.
A video that went viral this weekend showing illegal streetcar racers taking over part of I-240 near Walnut Grove. Traffic was at a complete standstill.
Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings addressed it Tuesday.
“That matter is under investigation. It lasted for right about 10 minutes,” said Rallings. “MPD was called and we did respond.”
But by the time officers arrived, the illegal streetcar racers were gone.
That incident, and prior ones, are why the city council is moving forward by holding the first of three votes on a proposal to punish those who encourage and organize the illegal stunts.
“Using a vehicle in this manner is just as harmful as having a deadly weapon,” said Memphis City Councilman Ford Canale.
Rallings says Memphis isn’t the only city dealing with this problem and he says there is no indication that gangs are involved.
But he says gangs are driving homicide numbers.
He says of the record 332 homicides last year, gangs were involved in more than two-thirds of them.
Rallings said 38 of the homicide victims were children.
He says part of the problem is gangs tend to be multi-generational and members of different gangs have joined forces.
“These kids grow up together and they’re in different gangs, but they work together to steal cars, commit armed robberies,” said Rallings.
MPD leaders say tougher laws and jail sentences will help along with more mentorship programs.