Crime in Memphis

This week the Shelby County Commission considers two ordinances drafted by a police reform group and sponsored by Commissioner Britney Thornton.

The first is an ordinance “to request that the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office disbands and discontinues future use of all Sheriff’s Office specialized units and task forces and ends participation in multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency task forces.”

The second is an ordinance “requesting the Shelby County Sheriff to: 1) ban biased traffic stops and the use of pretextual traffic stops for low-level violations; 2) limit searches, questioning, and the use of unmarked vehicles; and 3) bar surveillance as an alternative to pretextual traffic stops.”

Neither ordinance would appear to have force beyond making a suggestion to the Shelby County Sheriff, who is separately elected.

However, the Memphis area remains in the grip of a crime crisis, and these suggestions present a risk of signaling that law enforcement should back away from strategic efforts to ensure public safety.

Updates from the Shelby County Commission

Right on the Bluff: March 2023

Remembering Geoffrey Redd

Yesterday I attended the funeral of Geoffrey “Bernard” Redd, who died as a result of being critically wounded in the line of duty. In addition to serving 15 years with MPD, Officer Redd was a U.S. Marine and an ordained minister. He was also a father, a son, a brother, and a newlywed. Memphis has suffered a giant loss with his passing.

At this funeral, I could not help but notice the absence of the U.S. Vice President, federal lawmakers, media personalities, and national media crews who visited Memphis last month. No out of state activists arrived to mourn his loss.

That is truly shameful, and it speaks to the larger problem we have as a society.

Updates from the Shelby County Commission

Right on the Bluff: February 2023

Remembering Tyre Nichols

Today I sat near the U.S. Vice President and other officials attending the funeral of Tyre Nichols, whose death has placed Memphis in the national spotlight once again.

Tyre’s family is dealing with intense hurt, and many of our neighbors are experiencing second-hand trauma as well, concerned about how they or their loved ones might be treated by the very officers who are meant to protect us from harm.

We all want to feel safe in our own neighborhoods. I am committed to doing all I can to help Memphis and Shelby County recover that feeling. Together, we will find a way.

Updates from the Shelby County Commission

Right on the Bluff: January 2023

The new year

Happy New Year! This is one of my favorite weeks on the calendar because it gives us an excuse to wipe the slate clean, make resolutions, set goals, try new things, and dream big. Whatever you have in mind to do this year, I pray for many blessings over your plans.

One goal I have this year is to improve my communication with constituents. This newsletter will be a new way to share what’s going on in our community, and to highlight some of what’s being discussed at the Shelby County Commission.

The Daily Memphian is out with a story today on what officials in Bartlett and Lakeland expect from 2023. The article kicks off with some of my reflections on the biggest local developments in politics, economics, infrastructure, public safety and education.


How we act

In recent days we have seen the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies and partners act swiftly to locate those responsible for the violence that has gripped the City of Memphis.

These heroes deserve our enduring gratitude for the incredible way in which they took coordinated action.

However, these tragic events have also brought to light additional challenges we face as a community when it comes to public safety. We have seen violent offenders being released early, only to return to criminal behavior. We have discovered a new backlog in processing evidence, added to a trial backlog. And we have observed an intense need for additional resources and reforms in the criminal justice system.

The public demands action.