UofM, Memphis-Shelby County Crime Commission teaming up to fight crime

by: Kristin Leigh Updated:

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Treyellis and Deja Price are sophomores at the University of Memphis. They told FOX13 they feel safe on campus, but the crime rates in Memphis give the school a bad reputation.                                      

“People are concerned about crime in Memphis,” Deja, a student from Olive Branch, said.

University officials are concerned with crime in Memphis too. U of M President David Rudd told FOX13 parents and students want to feel safe when they choose a college.

“One of the first things that parents ask you about at the university is whether or not it’s a safe environment for their children to live,” Rudd said.

The U of M and the Memphis-Shelby County Crime Commission announced the creation of the Public Safety Institute (PSI) Thursday, which will draw on researchers from multiple disciplines and departments at the U of M to explore policies and strategies for improving public safety.

Treyellis said U of M, with well-lit streets, emergency response polls and campus police, is safe. But he said crime in nearby neighborhoods should be addressed.

“You feel more safe on campus than if you would walk maybe five to 10 blocks down the street,” Treyellis said.

Together, the U of M and the commission hope to address crime in Memphis neighborhoods, and they hope their research will help communities across the country.

“We need to be involved in issues that have local significance and national meaning,” Rudd said. “I think we're doing that. This puts us at the forefront in addressing and targeting those issues, which is perfect for the university.”

Bill Gibbons, former Shelby County District Attorney General, will leave his role as the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to direct the effort as the new President of the Memphis-Shelby County Crime Commission on September 1.

“Together we're going to identify things that we think will work, and then through the U of M we're going to be able to evaluate whether or not they are working,” Gibbons said, when asked why he thinks the initiative will affect change in Memphis.

It’s an effort Deja and Treyellis hope will be successful. Despite crime in Memphis, they said they are proud Tigers.

“I wouldn’t let that stop me from coming here, because it’s a great school,” Deja said.

“You can go anywhere and there’s going to be crime,” Treyellis added. “I don’t think that’s going to play a huge part in people not wanting to come to Memphis.”