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Memphis leaders hope proposed police foundation can support MPD in fighting crime

During the recent Black Mayor’s Coalition on Crime gathering in Memphis, participants got to exchange ideas and concepts with one another in hopes of reducing crime. And it appears that on at least one concept, Memphis has found a template to follow.

This week, Memphis City Council Chair JB Smiley Jr. is expected to introduce an ordinance creating a public safety foundation. The foundation would conduct research and accept private donations to help fund crime reduction efforts.

The model is based on a similar program in Atlanta, where interim Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis was previously a command officer. Smiley made the announcement prior to the April 9 full council meeting. 

He was joined by Mayor Paul Young and interim Memphis Police Department Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, as he spoke to reporters. Several fellow council members were present too.

“I think what this signifies by the various people standing here, that this administration, this council, this chamber means business when it comes to crime,” said Smiley.

The proposed philanthropic and research foundation would be funded by private donations. It would also be tailored to Memphis’ specific needs. 

Along with researching best practices, the foundation could aid officer recruitment and retention through tuition reimbursement. It could also pickup the tab on the costs of allowing off-duty officers to take patrol cars home. Both are currently funded in the budget.

If the proposal passes, a consultant is expected to be hired. 

Another potential hire could be a public-safety director position for the City of Memphis. Mayor Young has announced his intentions to create the position. 

The appointee could work alongside the foundation and Davis.

Prior to the selection of the Atlanta model, city leaders had expressed interest in different approaches to tackling pervasive crime. In late March, Young hosted a conference of Black leaders from 18 U.S. cities.  Crime reduction efforts were on the tips of attendants’ tongues throughout the three day summit.

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