Memphis/Shelby County Violent Crime Rate Drops in 2019; Reported Gun Crimes Decline; Juvenile Offenses Up
MEMPHIS – For the first three quarters of this year (January – September), reported gun crimes were down compared to last year, but violent delinquent charges against juveniles were up significantly. The figures were released by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and the University of Memphis Public Safety Institute.
The decline in gun crimes is consistent with the drop in reported major violent crimes, based on preliminary data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). (Major violent crimes include murders, robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults. The preliminary TBI data shows a 3.2 percent decline in Memphis and a 4.4 percent drop countywide.)
The Memphis Police Department maintains data on the number of certain types of incidents involving guns. Using that data, the Public Safety Institute determined that the number of reported incidents in Memphis involving guns dropped from 4,257 in January – September of last year to 3,952 this year – a 7.2 percent decline.
The TBI maintains data on the number of certain types of crimes involving guns. (One incident can involve more than one crime, depending upon the different types of offenses committed and the number of victims.) TBI figures show 7,183 crimes with guns reported in Memphis during the first three quarters of this year compared to 7,364 last year – a 2.5 percent decrease.
Going against the overall downward trend in reported violent crimes and, more specifically, gun crimes is the increase in major violent delinquent charges against juveniles. (“Delinquent” charges are the same as “criminal” charges against adults.) Through September of this year, according to data provided by the Juvenile Court, there were 671 major violent delinquent charges compared to 423 in 2018 – a 58.6 percent increase.
“We are encouraged that reported violent crime is down so far this year, as well as crimes involving guns. At the same time, we are seeing a disturbing and significant increase in violent delinquent charges against juveniles who are often affiliated with gangs,” said District Attorney Amy Weirich.
The current Safe Community Plan contains a number of steps designed to curb gun and gang violence, including
(1) expansion of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit, (2) an increase in law enforcement officers coupled with data- driven deployment, (3) a focused deterrence approach geared toward high-risk repeat offenders, (4) strong prosecution of gun crimes, and (5) support for a youth assessment center to reduce the number of repeat juvenile offenders.
(2) an increase in law enforcement officers coupled with data-driven deployment, (3) a focused deterrence approach geared toward high-risk repeat offenders, (4) strong prosecution of gun crimes, and (5) support for a youth assessment center to reduce the number of repeat juvenile offenders.
About the Crime Statistics: In measuring overall crime rates and trends, the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and the Public Safety Institute use data reported by local enforcement agencies to the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS), which was developed and is maintained by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. An incident is defined in TIBRS as “one or more offenses committed by the same offender or group of offenders acting in concert, at the same time and place.” Some categories of major violent crime and domestic violence offenses, however, uniquely refer to a victim count versus an incident count. All rates are calculated based on per 100,000 population.
About the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission (www.memphiscrime.org): Memphis Shelby Crime Commission is an independent, non-profit 501(c) (3) organization that “quarterbacks” the work of the Safe Community Plan and its partners. It is funded through the generous contributions of many private sector donors. Ben Adams, CEO of Baker Donelson law firm, serves as chair of the board, and Bill Gibbons serves as president of the Commission.
About the Safe Community Plan (www.memphiscrime.org): Launched in 2007, the Safe Community Plan, an action plan spearheaded by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, is a community-based crime reduction initiative. Implementation of the Safe Community Plan is chaired by Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.
About the Public Safety Institute (www.memphis.edu/psi): The Public Safety Institute of the University of Memphis is an interdisciplinary part of the University community committed to identifying and advancing best practices in the field of public safety. It is housed in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. Bill Gibbons serves as executive director.