Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. sent followers of his email list a note the day after New Year’s touting a historic drop in crime in Memphis:
I wanted to let you know about a remarkable milestone that the city of Memphis passed on Friday night. In the year that ended yesterday, we had the fewest criminal homicides since the early 1970s. In fact, criminal homicides dropped 31% last year!
We mourn the loss of each victim: the mothers, the sons, the brothers who lost their lives under our watch. The couple recently killed in their University of Memphis area home, allegedly by their nephew. Thomas Price, killed at the hands of a friend over a monetary dispute. Mark Anthony Clark Jr. who was shot near South Perkins and Knight Arnold over an argument with an acquaintance. Basketball great Lorenzen Wright, whose murder, sadly, still remains unsolved.
But I also want to mention the 42 people we did not lose this year compared to last. Those are 42 people who are still with us, laughing, loving, and living their lives. It could be you. It could be someone you love. It could be me.
The drop in our homicide rate is echoed in our overall crime rate: it’s down 26% in the last four years.
The reason we are winning the war on crime is collaboration: Memphis Police, Shelby County Sheriffs, and the District Attorney’s Office working with the Crime Commission, neighborhood watch groups, churches, and businesses every day of the year. We’ve made use of some of the most innovative, state-of-the-art policing techniques in the world, including Skycop cameras, BLUE Crush, Cyber Watch, and the Real Time Crime Center.
We’ve also used some more old fashioned tactics: neighbors watching out for neighbors. Citizens and police talking to each other and working with one another. The people of Memphis, day by day, block by block, refusing to accept graffiti, vandalism, or blight that invites more violent kinds of crime. We are winning the war on crime because we are working together.
I know that 93 criminal homicides is 93 too many. 93 lives cut short in senseless, brutal acts of unforgivable violence. We cannot erase the stains of tragedies from our memories – but we can honor them by working harder to remove the threat of further crime from our city.
In the coming year, I will keep doing everything I can to make Memphis even safer. I’m going to need your help – but I know that together we can do it.
With warmest wishes for a safe and joyful year ahead,
A C Wharton, Jr.
Mayor, City of Memphis