Star Staff Reports
MEMPHIS – The University of Memphis Public Safety Institute and the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission released preliminary figures from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) for the first half of 2019 (January-June) which show a significant drop in reported major property crime in Memphis and Shelby County, as well as a decline in domestic violence and overall crime as measured by 54 different categories.
Reported major violent crime remained fairly steady, with a very significant declines in reported robberies and rapes but offset somewhat by increases in reported aggravated assaults and murders.
The major property crime figure includes burglaries, motor vehicle thefts and other felony level thefts.
During the first half of the year, the major property crime rate dropped 7.5 percent in Memphis and 8.9 percent countywide compared to last year. Declines occurred in all three categories, including a significant decline in reported burglaries – down 13.8 percent in Memphis and 15.8 percent countywide.
An encouraging decline in reported domestic violence which began in 2018 continued, with a reduction of 7 percent in Memphis during the first half of 2019 and a 5.9 percent drop countywide.
The major violent crime figure includes murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. The rate of reported robberies declined significantly compared to the first half of last year – down 18.1 percent in Memphis and 17.4 percent countywide.
Reported rapes dropped as well, by 21.4 percent in Memphis and 23.1 percent in all of Shelby County.
These declines were offset somewhat by increases in reported aggravated assaults (up 8.2 percent in Memphis and 5.4 percent countywide), along with an increase in murders (up 14.5 percent in Memphis and 16.8 percent countywide).
In total, the major violent crime rate increased 1 percent in Memphis but dropped 0.7 percent throughout Shelby County.
The overall crime rate is determined by using reported crimes in 54 different categories (called Group A crimes by the TBI). The overall crime rate dropped significantly in the first half of the year compared to last year – a decline of 6.6 percent in Memphis and 7.5 percent countywide.
“Less crime means fewer citizens victimized and fewer families impacted by crime,” said District Attorney Amy Weirich. “These numbers are overall encouraging. But there is still much work to do.
One of the great things about our five-year Safe Community plan is that everyone can participate in some way and contribute to a safer and stronger community. Just think what we could prevent if every neighborhood had an active in Neighborhood Watch group.”
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.” Reported 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.
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 Operation: Safe Community (OSC) 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.
Safe Community (www.operationsafecommunity.org): Launched in 2007, the Operation: Safe Community (OSC) action plan, spearheaded by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, is a community-based crime reduction initiative.
Implementation of the Operation: Safe Community action 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.