‘When you lose your Downtown, you’ve lost your city’: Memphis struggles to keep investors due to crime

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 5:37 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis city leaders are sharing their concerns over crime in the Bluff City.

It comes after a violent weekend with multiple deadly shootings.

City leaders say it’s critical that crime is addressed, especially Downtown.

Not only is it impacting the people who call Memphis home, but some city leaders say they’re concerned about crime impacting the businesses and events that attract visitors to the Bluff City.

“30 cars, one night, one block, a hundred over the weekend,” said Councilman Chase Carlisle.

Car break-ins and violent crime, especially among teens, continue to be an issue.

“If we cannot bring the crime statistics down in the Downtown area, we will not get private investors,” Carlisle said.

He says it’s now becoming more difficult to sell investors on Memphis, which he says will hurt the city in the long run.

“It is the peak of the Grizzlies basketball season. The Tigers are playing, the Orpheum is running, people are coming in all around the region for that stuff and they must feel safe,” he said.

“We don’t want residents in the communities and outlying areas to move, and that’s what I’m hearing, so you know, we are virtually in a state of emergency,” Councilwoman Rhonda Logan said.

But the problems aren’t just Downtown.

Two teens were shot and killed near the Hickory Hill area over the weekend.

Councilwoman Patrice Robinson, who represents District 3 where the shooting happened, says everyone must do their part to reduce crime.

“Until we get some of these guns out of our kids’ hands, you know everybody wants to have a gun for protection in their home or whatever they want to do, but sometimes they get in the wrong hands, and they’re used in the wrong way,” she said.

Robinson also says police cannot fix the issue alone.

“We need to make sure that we work with our children on a daily basis, parents are engaged [and] the church communities got to come out of the four walls of the church and develop character in our community, and we have to learn some self-love,” she said.

We also heard from Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis.

“The problem can’t just rest on the Memphis Police Department; I take responsibility of the resources that I do have, and I ensure that they are here, they are responsive, and they do what we can for this city,” Davis said.

Davis also says getting control of Downtown is critical.

“When you lose your Downtown, you’ve lost your city,” she said. “Some people don’t understand. That doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the rest of our residents, but as far as the growth of this city and ensuring that people who visit here feel safe and come back and invest in our city, it’s really important for us to invest in our Downtown space.”

Davis also says officers are a visible crime deterrent, and they are continuing their recruiting efforts to get more officers.

The department plans to hold a strategic planning session at the police department in January to find new approaches to address the problems.

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