Operation ‘Slow Down Memphis’ takes aim at crime, dangerous driving on interstates

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More officers will be on the interstate as law enforcement works to crack down on reckless driving, drag racing and shootings.

Officers lined up for a roll call inside the Liberty Bowl Thursday before fanning out and posting up on interstates and highways across Memphis. It’s all part of “Slow Down Memphis”, a traffic enforcement operation to crack down on interstate shootings, reckless driving and illegal drag racing.

Deputy Chief Michael Hardy says those are problems plaguing the city and were fueled by boredom and fewer cars on the road during the pandemic.

WREG dash cameras have captured cars flying down interstates, carelessly weaving in and out of traffic. Videos have also shown cars doing stunts on busy roads.

MPD says for the next month, two officers from every precinct will be out patrolling.

“And then an additional ten from the organized crime unit that will be dedicated to this operation,” Hardy said.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office will also be out. The Tennessee Highway Patrol has agreed to help, which MPD and the mayor’s office have spent months begging the state for.

“They have allocated resources for out counties and out districts to participate in this operation, and we look forward to making Memphis safer,” said Highway Patrol Captain Jimmie Johnson.

WREG uncovered new data showing arrests are up. In 2020, MPD arrested 31 people for illegal drag racing. So far this year, 37 people have been arrested.

Most of the arrests this year are adults, which is the same trend we saw last year. Some drivers were going 50 to 60 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Starting in July, drag racing penalties increased to a class A misdemeanor.

“Also, it enables us to start towing the vehicles and put them up for seizure,” Hardy said.

MPD says extra patrols will last through September 5.

MPD says another part of the operation is community involvement and getting drivers to speak up if they see something. They say calls for a vehicle disturbance doubled last year compared to 2019 and are also up this year.

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