Allison Sossaman,
August 26, 2010

MEMPHIS, TN – There’s been a dramatic drop in violent crime in Memphis and Shelby County, but it’s not time to celebrate just yet. There has not been much progress in other areas, like juvenile crime and domestic violence. Lawmakers want to do something about it.

Memphis has seen a nearly 30-percent drop in violent crime over the last four years. A crime fighting initiative that started four years ago called “Operation Safe Community” is getting a lot of credit. But the people who are behind the five-year program say, despite progress, there’s still a long way to go.

Murder, rape and robbery rates are seeing major declines. Crime in the Bluff City isn’t pretty, but we’re seeing progress.

“Memphis and Shelby County have bragging rights to some significant accomplishments here. We’re not the most violent city in the nation or in Tennessee for that matter,” said State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris.

Norris is focused on one part of the fifteen point strategy known as “Operation Safe Community.” He’s working to get tougher laws on gun crimes.

“We have probably accomplished 70 to 75-percent of the criminal sentencing reforms we sought on what we call “Crooks with Guns,” Sen. Norris said.

But statistics on kids committing crimes and domestic violence are worse. With juvenile crime, Norris says laws aren’t working in our favor.

“Our Juvenile Court here in Shelby County is one of the most outstanding courts in the state. Unfortunately, the current administration in Nashville has made some terrible decisions about juvenile offenders,” said Norris.

He’s focused on getting better results from the next Governor in Nashville.

“We need to put some teeth back in the laws as it relates to juvenile offenders, and the detention of those who really are not on the road to rehabilitation and probably never will be. There have to be serious consequences,” Sen. Norris said.

Operation Safe Community released a U of M study criticizing the City and County’s ability to deal with domestic violence cases. It calls for more money for programs and hopes the new “Family Safety Center,” opening next year, will go a long way in addressing these issues.

Some issues that were brought up in the domestic violence study include the difficulty victims have with filing protection orders and the lack of shelter available for victims.

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