Does MPD have resources to fight crime? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Does MPD have resources to fight crime?

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Does the Memphis Police Department have the resources it needs to fight crime in the Bluff City?

That's the question being asked by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

"We want to ensure that Memphis and Shelby County is a safe place to live," said Michelle Fowlkes, Executive Director Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

The commission's executive board sent a letter to Mayor A C Wharton and the city council sharing its concerns the police department isn't fully utilizing the Blue Crush Crime Fighting Program.

The board says violent crime was up in the city last year, and the commission, which reviews crime data says Blue Crush helps lower the violent crime rate.

"We want to ensure that the city of Memphis or the police department has all of the resources necessary to tackle this particular problem," Fowlkes said,

The police department's Blue Crush program uses crime statistics to fight crime. They identify problem areas and flood them with officers sweeping criminals off the streets.
Police Director Toney Armstrong said the department hasn't moved away from the program, but last year they had to use the department's overtime budget for other needs.

"We just haven't been able to run with the same frequency that we have using overtime dollars to do it," the police director said. "Our precinct commanders have had to be strategic and had to be creative in the usage of it."

But since November 2012, Director Armstrong says the Blue Crush program has been fully functional.

"We've never gotten away from it," he said. "It's a crime initiative that's been effective so I would never get away from something that's been effective and it's actually a cornerstone of what we've accomplished here."

The police department has also been focused on other crime fighting initiatives, like a focus on community-oriented policing -- going after gangs, and the city's 25-block program to clean up blight.

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