Memphis, TN

Why Is Memphis Such a Dangerous City To Live In?

Ash Jurberg
Police OfficerPhoto by Alec Favale on Unsplash

In a recent study of the most dangerous cities in the United States to live in, Memphis came in third. Only Detroit and St Louis were had higher crime rates than Memphis. If you live in Memphis, you have a 1 in 52 chance of being the victim of a crime- this places Memphis third words in the country.

The crime rates in Memphis are getting worse. In 2019 they ranked 7th in the United States for crime, and in 2021 has risen to third.

As a tourist looking to visit Memphis, I was doing research and google searches and was surprised that many of the suggested Google results were based around the danger, crime, and lack of safety in Memphis.

The question must be asked why is Memphis such a hotbed of crime?

The Crime Statistics

To get a better picture of how Memphis compares, let's look at a few key statistics that Neighborhood Scout has compiled.

Memphis has 19.01 violent crimes per 1000 residents. This compares to 5.95 across other Tennesse cities and the national average of 4.

Looking at property crime and the figures are just as bad.

Memphis has 62.13 property crimes per 1000 residents. This compares to 26.53 across other Tennesse cities and the national average of 21 property crimes per 1000 residents. Sadly there is a 1 in 16 chance that you will be the victim of a property crime if you live in Memphis.

The last statistic to look at is the number of crimes per square mile. Memphis has 163 crimes per squire mile. The average across American cities is 28.3.

Can the new Police chief reduce crime?

Last week City councilmembers appointed Cerelyn “CJ” Davis as the newest chief of the Memphis Police Department in a full council vote of 12-1. Davis becomes the first female police chief to lead the Memphis Police Department. She will start in her role on June 14, having been Police Chief in Durham, North Carolina, for the last five years.

Davis acknowledges the increasing crime rate and is working on a 90-day plan to reduce this.

“Identifying the individuals, you know committing the most egregious crimes. I’ve said it before 80 percent of the crime is committed by 20 percent of the people. There are a lot of good people in communities that are suffering because of what a few people are doing,”new Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis

Part of the problem has been a severe shortage in police numbers, and Davis is looking to address that by enticing police officers to move to Memphis.

The President of the Memphis Police Association, Essica Cage-Rosario, thinks bringing in someone from outside Memphis will be advantageous.

“[She] talked about being accessible to officers being accessible to people in the community, and I think that’s a great plan and I think if you can communicate with people, they can see you and see that you’re willing to decide the time and attention that we need here I think she’ll be ok,” Essica Cage-Rosario, President of the Memphis Police Association

Another person who welcomes the new appointment and opportunity this presents is Chelsea Glass, a community organizer with Decarcerate Memphis, a grassroots group focused on criminal justice reform.

“I think that we have a really great opportunity to do some things differently,” said Glass. The group is asking Davis to commit to 10 steps in her first 100 days, which include ending militarized policing and training, removing fees that make it difficult to obtain police bodycam footage, and giving the civilian police reform board, known as CLERB, more power.

Let's hope that Davis can help reduce the alarming crime rate and make Memphis a safer place for all.

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