Street Crime

Goal: Continued reductions in crime year over year.

  • What is this?

    Street crime, as we're assessing it here, is crime that would threaten our personal safety as we're heading from one place to the next. Our measure includes assault, robbery, drug violations, sex offenses, and homicide.

  • Why does it matter?

    Street crime undermines our peace and security and threatens the liberty with which we move about the city.

  • Who is responsible?

    Memphis Police Department (MPD)

  • How do we measure performance?

    We track the number of incidents and look for them to decline. We are also interested in the crime rate (number of incidents per 100,000 in population) and will display that on future versions of this dashboard.

How is street crime measured?

What we are attempting to track here is the body of crimes that would threaten the personal safety of Memphians as we head from one place to the next. To do this, we measure assault, robbery, drug violations, sex offenses, and homicides. We do not include crimes that by definition take place only at home or another destination -- for instance, burglaries and home invasion robberies, which take place only within a business or residence.

Our attempt to track street crime is complicated by the fact that crime isn't commonly categorized according to whether it takes place in a building or in the public realm (the places between buildings). That information exists within each incident report that our police officers file, but there's no ready-made software to help us extract it. To overcome this obstacle in the short term, we've collaborated with the MPD's Real Time Crime Center to display the crimes that are most likely to impact Memphians' safety outside the home. For these crimes, we count all incidents that occur each year. When viewing the results, please bear in mind that some crimes that occur inside the home (such as certain instances of domestic assault) are temporarily included in these results.

Note also that our figures for the category of homicide represent the sum total of murders (the figure that typically gets reported), manslaughter, and justifiable homicide.

The charts on this page display the number of incidents that occur each year. We are also interested in the crime rate (number of incidents per 100,000 in population) and will display that in future versions of this dashboard.

What is the state of street crime in Memphis?

Incidents of street crime have decreased 11% since 2006 and 18% since the recent peak in 2007. The steepest reductions have come within the past three years, during which the number of incidents decreased by 15.5%. That pattern largely follows the pattern of assault, which makes up 73% of the incidents measured here. From 2007 to 2011, non-domestic assault declined while domestic assault rose, canceling out most of the improvement. Both began declining simultaneously in 2012.

Category Included Crimes
Homicide murder, justifiable homicide, manslaughter
Sex Offenses forcible fondling, forcible rape, statutory rape, forcible sodomy, incest, sexual assault with an object
Robbery robbery of a business, robbery of an individual
Assault (Non-Domestic) aggravated assault, simple assault
Assault (Domestic) aggravated assault (domestic), simple assault (domestic), aggravated childabuse, simple child abuse
Drug Violations drug equipment violations, felony drug/narcotics violations, misdemeanor drug/narcotics violations

How is the city working to reduce street crime?

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) uses a variety of best-practice policing tools to fight crime, including a proactive, predictive policing initiative called Operation Blue CRUSH. With Blue CRUSH, the MPD uses data about past crimes to identify potential and emerging "hot spots" so that it can deploy officers more effectively in the field and respond more quickly to upticks in incidents. Our Real Time Crime Center collects incident information as it's happening and monitors more than 500 cameras around the city that are placed in known hot spots. By improving the flow of information and getting it quickly into officers' hands via PDAs (personal digital assistants), the Real Time Crime Center enables the MPD to deter more crime, respond faster to crimes that happen, and increase the speed with which they apprehend suspects.

The city also participates in the implementation of Operation: Safe Community, a roadmap of twenty-six research-based strategies to make Memphis and Shelby County safer. Those strategies support reductions in six key areas: domestic violence, gang and drug crime, blight, youth violence, and adult repeat offenders.

Memphians have a continuing role in helping to reduce crime through the city's Neighborhood Watch Program. This program has shown that citizens help in the reduction of local crime by being vigilant and partnering with local law enforcement to address the crime related issues and economic challenges within their community. As a complement to Neighborhood Watch, the Memphis Police Department operates the Community Outreach Program (COP) that puts a concentration of police officers in neighborhoods where crime is high in order to keep the peace and build trust between residents and police.

The City is participating with other government and non-profit organizations in the County's Blueprint for Safety, an initiative launched in 2015 to reduce domestic violence. The initiative aims to enhance the 911 dispatch service, improve law enforcement of domestic violence crimes, and strengthen social services for both victims and offenders. The Family Safety Center, a key partner in the Blueprint for Safety, serves as a single location where victims of family violence can receive civil, criminal, health and social services.

More information

To create a Neighborhood Watch group, call your local Memphis Police Department precinct and speak with the Neighborhood Watch coordinator. The coordinator will takedown your information and let you know what needs to be done to organize the neighborhood watch.

If you or someone in your family are a victim of domestic violence, contact the Family Safety Center 24-hour hotline (901) 222-4400.