Tennessee Highway Patrol to provide more help to address interstate shootings

Published: Feb. 12, 2022 at 4:51 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Interstate shootings have been a big problem in Memphis and Shelby County.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) said it plans to provide more help to local police this year to help them tackle the problem.

“We have seen a drastic increase, especially after the COVID pandemic,” said Jeff Long, commissioner of safety and homeland security. “I don’t know whether people are mad or what the issue is, but everybody’s in a hurry to get where they’re wanting to go and want to get there quicker, and want everybody out of their way.”

Last year, Memphis police said they responded to 121 shootings on the interstates. At least eight have been reported this year.

Col. Matt Perry with the THP told state lawmakers this week they plan to provide more help to local police by providing more troopers to patrol areas they have seen a rise in highway shootings as part of a hiring spree they plan to undertake.

In his State of the State address earlier this month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced THP would be hiring 100 additional troopers.

“There’s a shooting on the Interstate in Tennessee every day,” said Perry. “Memphis is averaging a couple a week and that number is growing. Nashville clearly is starting to see the problem.”

Perry said other areas are also seeing an increase in highway shootings.

“[It’s] not just the cities, the counties surrounding those are having shootings every day,” Perry said.

While Perry didn’t offer any specifics about THP’s hiring plan, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said THP already increased the number of highway patrol troopers in Shelby County from six to 12. The mayor said there are plans for 16 officers by this summer with more to come later in the year.

Meanwhile, the highway patrol said if you’re ever a victim of road rage, never retaliate or react in a manner that could potentially cause more danger. Instead, slow down and let the other driver pass.

THP said when it’s safe, use your cell phone to call the police.

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