The Memphis police department is battling the highest violent crime rate among the nation’s large metropolitan areas as well as a rash of indictments facing officers allegedly caught in illegal drug heists, obstruction of justice, extortion, conspiracy, transporting drugs and prostitutes across state lines, and plotting a burglary, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The police also face a serious challenge in a crime spree that has created a crisis for the local Spanish-speaking community.
The familiar pattern: The victims are laborers who are less likely to speak English, less likely to report crimes for fear that they will be deported for immigration violations, and more likely to be carrying cash from their last pay day. The perpetrators typically are African-American men. Fueled by immigrants from Latin America as well as American cities such as Los Angeles and Houston, the Hispanic population more than tripled in the Memphis area between 1990 and 2000, growing to 27,520. A more realistic count that included illegal immigrants would be much higher. Creating a safe atmosphere for this vulnerable population will not be easy, says the newspaper in an editorial.