Memphis mayor says impound lot fix on the way

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 10:13 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The buck, and the chaos, stop with him.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland promises to get the city’s impound lot organized and functioning again.

Lost cars. Extra paperwork. Additional charges.

Citizens and tow truck operators alike said they’ve had it with the city’s impound lot.

And during an exclusive interview with Action News 5, Mayor Strickland said the public is right to be upset.

But a fix, he said, is on the way.

City of Memphis impound lot
City of Memphis impound lot(Action News 5)

Jaw-dropping drone video shows the Memphis impound lot bursting at the seams.

“The impound lot is a city facility,” said Mayor Strickland, “I’m the mayor. I take full responsibility for what’s going on there... it’s not satisfactory, the service we’re providing to the people who use the impound lot. There are many reasons for it.”

One cause for the overflow is the explosion in car thefts in 2022.

The Memphis Police Department, which operates the facility, provided the following numbers of vehicles towed to the impound lot in the last four years:

  • 2019 - 10,229
  • 2020 - 11,453
  • 2021 - 12,454
  • 2022 - 15,067

The data shows a 47% increase in the number of vehicles taken to the impound lot over the last four years. And with more cars stored there, it now takes more time to find your car in the metal maze.

Car owners are charged $20 to get into the lot and look for their car. And it takes more money to tow the car off the lot where another flatbed or tow truck awaits if the car is undrivable.

Clifford and Taylen Bynum found that out the hard way after Clifford’s Infiniti was stolen earlier in the month.

The brothers told Action News 5 they spent more than six hours picking up the car at the lot — missing work and losing out on money.

”We had to sign paperwork and go through that little process,” said Taylen.

“We had to get my car towed over here,” Clifford said, pointing to a spot just outside the impound lot.

“And that’s just from that lot right across the street to over here,” Taylen added. “$60 just to get the car over here.”

One suggested solution to ease the overcrowding is for the city to buy more property and open a second location. Or, as Mayor Strickland suggested, the city should no longer take cars involved in wrecks to the impound lot.

“That seems like a bad policy, a bad practice,” he told Action News 5. “We ought to either take it to the home of the owner or to the repair place that they choose. I don’t know why we’re taking them. I think we have hundreds of [wrecked] cars at the impound lot. The city was not involved in the accident, didn’t cause it, it was just two private citizens. We ought not to be taking those private vehicles. Those are the kind of things that we’re going to have to fix, and we haven’t fixed them yet, but we will.”

An MPD spokesperson told Action News 5 the department will make a presentation to city council on Monday, Jan. 24 detailing ways in which to improve the impound lot.

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