Strickland's letter of Wednesday reads as follows:
November 12, 2014
Dear Fellow Memphians:
Many of you have contacted me about recent events for my thoughts.
In order to reduce crime, we need (1) aggressive policing, including full implementation of Blue Crush; (2) stronger state laws, which require violent criminals to serve their entire sentences and hold parents more responsible for their minor children’s violent acts; and (3) to create an environment where children choose the right path instead of the wrong one. This situation requires strong and effective action.
Instead, Mayor AC Wharton, in one week, argued for more midnight basketball for young people and, in the next week, asked the public schools to stop playing football Friday nights at 7:00 pm. We cannot allow this defeatist attitude to push Memphis to be known nationwide as the city who cannot keep citizens safe after dark.
From July 2011 through December 2012, Mayor Wharton secretly cut Blue Crush details, which are the extra police sent to crime “hot spots.” As a result, violent crime increased. When some of us discovered the decrease in Blue Crush details, they were reinstituted in January 2013, and crime began to fall again. See the summary I wrote about this reduction with supporting documentation at http://www.cityofmemphis.org/Portals/0/pdf_forms/bluecrushanalysis1.pdf.
In addition to Blue Crush, there are other actions that need to be taken. There is a curfew law, but it is never enforced. Five months ago, the Council approved, and added to, the Mayor’s proposed police budget. Now, we need to make cuts in other departments to hire more police officers, and I will make such a proposal at our next Council meeting next week.
The City needs to arrest all persons, including juveniles, who commit acts of violence on others. According to a news report (see http://wreg.com/2014/10/01/are-federal-mandates-limiting-local-crime-fighting/) and actions reflected in police reports (see the police reports), the Mayor believes that a Department of Justice mandate prohibits taking juvenile delinquents into custody and instead requires the issuance of a ticket or summons. This is not true. The DOJ report places no such limits. (See http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-enters-agreement-reform-juvenile-court-memphis-and-shelby-county-tennessee.)
2. Mayor Wharton’s Delayed Action<
Almost three years ago, on January 23, 2012, Mayor Wharton gave his State of the City Address. (See the speech at http://www.cityofmemphis.org/Portals/0/pdf_forms/STATEOFCITY_012312.pdf.) He stated his vision was to “create safe and vibrant places for people to live, learn, work, and play.” This included the pledge “to punish swiftly those who bring violence to our streets.”
He said he “launched an ambitious, aggressive 100 Days agenda that will set in motion crucial work on these priorities.” He promised to review the police department and “this review will guarantee that the police department is operating at peak performance.” (Emphasis added.)
It is now 1024 days after he promised to aggressively take action within 100 days. There still is no plan to create a “safe and vibrant” Memphis with a police department operating at “peak performance.” Violent crime is now up 9%.
Public safety is the number one responsibility of City government. We do not need more press conferences and town hall meetings; we need action.
The Council chairman's proposed resolution can be seen here:See related PDF