Hagerty, Blackburn Call on Biden to Address Rampant Violent Crime

September 14, 2022

WASHINGTON—United States Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today sent a letter to President Joe Biden following the recent tragic episodes of violent crime in Memphis, urging him to take immediate action to address the nationwide epidemic of violent crime and send the clear message—through Administration policies and funding—that Americans stand with law enforcement and that criminal activity will be swiftly and severely punished to remove dangerous offenders from our communities.

“We write regarding the recent shocking and tragic episodes of violent crime in Memphis, which are symptomatic of a rise in violent crime across the country that demands decisive federal law enforcement action. The most basic, important duty of government is to protect the life and liberty of its citizens, and substantially more resources must be put toward protecting innocent life,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators recounted the recent kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher and the shooting rampage across Memphis just days later that killed three and injured three others. They noted that these acts—both of which were committed by individuals with violent criminal histories—are indicative of the larger violent crime wave across America and clearly demonstrate that more must be done to make communities safer and strengthen and support law enforcement.

Hagerty and Blackburn explained that this unquestionable deterioration of public safety has been fueled by “the anti-law-enforcement movement that has wrought soft-on-crime policies—from the eradication of bail and pretrial detention to prosecutors declining to prosecute or seek jail time for serious crimes—as well as emboldened criminals who are often quickly returned to the streets.”

To stem this crisis and bolster public safety across the country, the Senators outlined specific, obvious steps the Biden Administration should immediately take, adding that: “Rampant crime is not inevitable—tough law enforcement can stop it.  But that requires a commitment to law enforcement.” To this end, the Senators specifically urged President Biden to: (1) fund law enforcement and prosecutors—without anti-police strings attached—including by maximizing use of the Armed Career Criminal Act and federal laws against felons possessing firearms to get dangerous, repeat offenders off the streets and by providing federal grant dollars to hire and retain more officers to fight violent crime; (2) revive highly successful Trump Administration initiatives like Operation Legend, which deployed federal law enforcement in American cities to combat crime and saved countless lives through over 6,000 arrests, including approximately 467 for homicide, and seizure of more than 2,600 illegal firearms and over 17 kilos of fentanyl during the second half of 2020 alone; (3) stop wasting federal dollars on jurisdictions that refuse to enforce the law or use basic public-safety tools like bail; and (4) detain and deport all illegal aliens who commit crimes in the United States.

“We must do whatever it takes to stop the escalation of violent crime across our nation. The cost of failing to do so has become tragically clear in our state. We would welcome the opportunity to work together to address this critical and worsening threat,” the Senators concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here.