Memphis and Shelby County, Tn., law enforcement officials credit the Project Safe Neighborhoods program for a precipitous drop in homicides the last two years, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Killings in Memphis dropped from 138 in 2003 to 118 in 2004. Homicides were down 15 percent in 2003 from the previous year. Solution rates have hovered in the high 80 percent range.
The local unit of the national Project Safe Neighborhoods effort said the number of violent crimes committed with guns in Shelby County and Memphis dropped 8.6 percent in 2004 from 2003, and 26.7 percent over the past two years. Under the program, local, county, and federal officials have have teamed up to prosecute 1,500 cases for murders and robberies involving guns. There have been 4,305 arrests, 500 federal indictments and more than 150 guilty pleas in state court. The U.S. Justice Department says that Congress has funded the program for fiscal year 2004-05, but that there will be minor funding cuts in some areas. Any funding cuts will affect research, not prosecutions, said a spokesman.