MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city of Memphis is getting some help from the White House in its fight against violent crime.
Mayor Jim Strickland said new guidance from Washington will allow the city to use money from the COVID-19 stimulus bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, to pay for new officers and much more.
Strickland said the city has already gotten half of its $160 million grant.
He said the other $80 million will come next year.
Strickland said the funds will help to improve public safety in the city.
“We have a plan to address the decade-old issue with public safety in our community, and these funds, it will allow us to fully implement and work on that plan,” he said.
“This will increase funds for training, more community policing, more youth programs, more money for our new group violence intervention program, and more money for second chance programs.”
Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis said the money will help the department hire new officers and train and pay existing officers for overtime.
“This additional funding will allow us to enhance public safety, not just with increased force, but will allow us to have wrap-around services and will allow us to wrap our arms around the communities we have pledged to serve,” Davis said.
With the state of Tennessee set to become an open carry state on July 1, Chief Davis said the funding and extra help couldn’t come at a better time.
“While this city opposed the legislation, it’s going to happen, and we need to be prepared,” she said. “We need the public’s help to reduce gun violence.”
Frayser is a community suffering from gun violence.
Pastor Ricky Floyd said he applauds the White House effort to push for ex-offenders to get jobs and better housing.
“We’ve got people who have gainful employment, benefits and insurance it increases the likelihood that they are not going to do anything to risk those jobs,” said Floyd.
The President also wants the ATF to put more emphasis on licensed gun dealers who don’t run background checks or sell weapons to people not allowed to own one.
The ATF has four teams working in the Memphis area already.
“Personnel, our intelligence, equipment, it allows us to jointly work with all the other federal and local law enforcement agencies,” said Special Agent Mickey French.
French said guns stolen or illegally sold in Memphis wreak havoc here and in other cities.
“From the Tennessee area, they are going up to Chicago. They are going up to Washington DC and the New York area,” French said.
When it comes to stolen guns, the ATF is still investigating 23 guns recently stolen out of a trailer parked outside a Bass Pro just last week.
Agents don’t know where those guns are but suspect they are in criminal hands.
The White House also announced Wednesday Memphis is one of 15 cities approved to use a portion of their ARP funding or other public funding to increase investment in violence intervention efforts.
©2021 Cox Media Group