U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat representing Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District, says Memphis’ crime rate is too high and you, the federal taxpayer, must chip in to make it right.
Last week, Cohen and U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District, introduced the Safer Streets Act. They describe it as a new grant program that will help cities with high rates of violent crime.
“The Safer Streets Act is intended to provide additional funding to address violent crime in places where the rate is significantly above the national average – places like Memphis,” Cohen said in a press release.
“With these grants, local governments with crime rates four times the national average would be eligible for half of the funds; those with three times the national rate would be eligible for 20 percent of the funds and those with twice that national rate would be eligible for the remaining 10 percent of funds. The bill also creates an emergency fund for units of local government that have spikes of violent crime.”
If the Safer Streets Act is enacted into law then the U.S. Department of Justice will administer grants to local jurisdictions to hire more law enforcement officers. The program would also pay for more surveillance equipment and crime prevention programs, the press release said.
No one in Cohen’s office returned The Tennessee Star’s request for comment Monday concerning which cities would get the money, how much the program would cost taxpayers, or what metrics federal officials would have in place to make sure the program works.
The Star also wanted to ask what specific crime prevention programs Cohen has in mind and whether the program would come to an end if it does not reduce crime.
As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2014, the federal departments of education and justice, under former Democratic President Barack Obama sent a combined $1.7 million in taxpayer money to combat youth violence in Memphis.
Cohen also announced those two initiatives at the time and said “this funding will be a valuable asset as we work to address the underlying causes of youth violence and prevent bad behavior before it becomes a bigger problem.”
Memphis officials were to use this money to, among other things, teach at-risk teenagers about violence prevention strategies and provide social and emotional support.
According to Forbes.com, Memphis is the fourth most dangerous city in the United States with a violent crime rate of 1,583 per 100,000 residents.
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