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Memphis COVID-19 relief spending plan focuses on public safety, broadband expansion

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The City of Memphis announced how it plans to spend millions of dollars it’s getting from the American Rescue Plan Act that President Biden signed into law earlier this year.

Public safety and expanding broadband internet access are two areas Memphis leaders plan to invest in significantly in the coming years.

Tuesday morning, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and members of his administration outlined their spending plan for more than half of the money they expect to get from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Over the last several weeks, we have taken considerable time to consider how best to allocate precious limited resources to respond to the needs of our government and our communities,” Strickland said.

Memphis plans to spend $4.8 million on its Group Violence Intervention Program. The program focuses on those most likely to commit violence.

The money will be used to keep so-called “violence interrupters” like Delvin Lane with 901 BLOC Squad on the streets.

“I want these kids to understand that they don’t have to live a life of crime, go to prison. They can be productive citizens in our community,” said Lane.

The city also wants to spend $6 million upgrading public safety technology, like installing more gun detection surveillance systems in violence-plagued neighborhoods.

Another $6.5 million would go toward a police take-home car program.

$12 million would be spent on recruitment incentives like sign-on bonuses for new police officers.

$9 million would go toward expanding after-school programs through the Boys & Girls Club.

The Strickland administration also proposes $25 million toward expanding broadband to “unserved and underserved populations.”

“As you know, much of the city is not wired, does not have the infrastructure to allow everyone to access, affordable, high-speed internet,” Strickland said. “Connecting internet to all our neighborhood is as important today to quality of life and job creation as was connecting homes and businesses to electricity 100 years ago.”

The City Council will have the final say on how this money gets spent and members will likely have their own ideas.

In all, the city expects to get $161 million in federal funding over the next couple of years.

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