MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mayor Jim Strickland said just like everyone else his life has been turned upside down due to COVID-19.
“It’s just an isolating feeling. All I do is go to work. Shut my door, at the end of the day I get in my car and go home,” said Strickland Friday.
The pandemic delivered him not only a debilitating virus to tackle for his second term but sky-rocketing crime numbers.
There were 332 homicides in the city in 2020.
Strickland said, “Even before the pandemic violent crime was too high, but during the pandemic, it’s been shameful.”
Thursday night during his State of the City address Mayor Strickland unveiled an initiative called “The Group Violence Intervention Program.”
The initiative plans to use evidence-based practices focused on outreach such as offering assistance like housing and job training to people known to commit crimes.
“It’s not a unique program. We even do it to a small degree in Memphis and Shelby County. We’ve had classes of what we call focused deterrence but it would be classes of 10 or 20 individuals. We need hundreds of individuals to go through it,” said Strickland.
Next month the city is teaming up with Amy Weirich and the District Attorney’s office for a class of 100 individuals.
Strickland said he will also be announcing a philanthropic donation to help pay for the initiative.
However, possibly the biggest task on the Mayor’s list is dealing with who will replace outgoing Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings.
Strickland said the position is now closed, and the city received around 40 or so applicants for the job, but he does now know who they are.
Next month some of the applicants will be interviewed by a panel including community leaders, activists, government officials and others.
Strickland said, “My goal is to be able to present somebody to city council in March, have them approved hopefully and have him overlap with Director Rallings for 30 days because he leaves in mid-April.”