crime

Lee budget assigns 20 more troopers to Shelby County

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State address on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee says his budget proposal would assign 20 more Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers to Shelby County to help stem crime rates.

Here’s the release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his proposed budget will fund 20 additional Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers for Shelby County as the administration focuses on proven crime prevention methods and addressing law enforcement staff shortages.

Gov. Lee will be in Memphis on Thursday, March 3, to do a ride-along with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Memphis Police Department with a brief media avail to follow.

“Violent crime has no place in Tennessee, period. To immediately strengthen public safety, we have to invest in evidence-based crime prevention methods and continue efforts to recruit and retain qualified law enforcement officers,” said Gov. Lee. “I commend the Memphis Police Department for their work to protect neighborhoods across the city and look forward to our continued partnership.”

Gov. Lee’s Fiscal Year 22-33 budget proposes key public safety investments, including proven crime prevention methods to directly support Memphis and Shelby County:

— 20 additional Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers for Shelby County funded 100% by the state.

— Creation of a $150 million Violent Crime Intervention Fund for law enforcement agencies across the state to invest in evidence-based programming and resources.

— $30 million to support relocation bonuses for out-of-state police officers seeking to move to Tennessee.

— Expansion of state funding for law enforcement basic training and increasing the frequency of training for new recruits.

— Access to a statewide hiring portal that includes qualified law enforcement recruits from outside of Tennessee who are looking to relocate.

Read more about Gov. Lee’s statewide public safety agenda here.

Tennessee executes first death row prisoner since 2009

Convicted child rapist and murderer Billy Ray Irick became the first Tennessee prisoner executed in Tennessee since 2009.

“I just want to say I’m really sorry and that, that’s it,” were Irick’s last words, according to The Associated Press.

The execution took place after state and federal courts declined Irick’s appeals.

The Tennessean reported that family members of 7-year-old victim Paula Dyer watched in a separate room off the execution chamber apart from other witnesses. One man leaned up close to the glass and bit his nail. A woman had her face pressed almost to the window.

U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from her colleagues decision not to delay the execution.

“In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the Court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the state of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody, while shrouding his suffering behind a veneer of paralysis,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

It was Tennessee’s 133rd execution since 1916.

Haslam grants clemency to four Tennesseans

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has granted executive clemency to four Tennesseans: Michelle Lea Martin, Ralph Randall Reagan, Robert James Sheard Jr., and Steven Lee Kennedy. “The governor continues to review and consider additional clemency requests,” according to a release.

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21 now charged in motorcycle gang case

Two more people have been charged in the federal case against members and associates of the Clarksville chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle gang.

The indictments returned by the federal grand jury in Nashville brings the total number of defendants in the case to 21.

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TBI reports domestic violence declined slightly in TN last year

Press release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a new study today, detailing the volume and nature of crime identified as being domestic violence in nature. The annual report compiles crime data submitted to TBI by the state’s law enforcement agencies through the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS).

Among the findings of “Domestic Violence 2017”:

  • A total of 77,846 domestic violence offenses were reported in 2017, representing a decrease of 1.8% since 2016.
  • Simple Assault accounted for the largest number of domestic violence offenses.
  • Females were three times as likely to be victimized as males, and accounted for 71.5% of reported victims.
  • Juveniles accounted for approximately 9.8% of reported domestic violence victims, with Fondling being the most reported offense made against juveniles.

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Legislative candidate’s wife charged with elder abuse, theft

Stephanie Butler, owner of a Cookeville retirement home named Senior Lifestyles, has been charged with elder abuse and theft from residents of the facility, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen. She is also the target of a lawsuit stemming from alleged actions in operating a now-closed facility known as Victorian Gardens Retirement Village.

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National campaign underway to free Nashville man sent back to federal prison after being released in 2016

More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the release of Matthew Charles from federal prison, reports WPLN, and the Nashville man’s case is otherwise getting considerable national attention – including a New York Times story suggesting he could be a candidate for clemency granted by President Donald Trump.

Charles was sentenced to 35 years in prison for selling cocaine in 1996, then freed in 2016 under a sentence-reduction program launched by former President Barack Obama – only to be sent back behind bars last week after courts ruled he technically didn’t qualify — though, by all accounts, he has led an exemplary life both while serving time and since his 2016 release.

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Former Nashville judge pleads guilty to corruption charges

Former Davidson County General Sessions Court Judges Casey Moreland pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to charges involving an attempted bribe and stealing from a program for recovering drug addicts, reports The Tennessean.

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Parole board splits on whether Haslam should grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown

The state Board of Paroles split three ways Wednesday in a voting on whether to recommend that Gov. Bill Haslam grant some form of clemency Cyntoia Brown, a Nashville woman serving a life sentence for a murder she committed in 2004 at age 16, reports The Tennessean. The upshot is no clear suggestion to Haslam, who has said he’s aware of the case that has received national attention while giving indication of his inclinations.

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TBI says reports of school crime on the increase

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a new study today, detailing the volume and nature of crime on K-12 campuses across the state. The annual report compiles three years of crime data submitted to TBI by the state’s law enforcement agencies through the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS).

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