Tennessee invests $100 million in police tools for reducing violence

by Jacob Fuller

Lauren C. Moye, FISM News


Tennessee is investing $100 million in grant funding for “proven methods” to reduce violence and strengthen public safety throughout the state.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the start of the Violent Crime Intervention Fund one week ago. According to the government announcement, “Eligible uses of funding include evidence-based crime intervention models, hiring and training of specialized violent crime units, purchase and application of technology and equipment and law enforcement-led partnerships with community organizations to disrupt and prevent violent crime.”

The program contains grant funding for two different project types: formula-based funding based on an agency’s reported violent crime rate and supplemental funds available for regional or multijurisdictional projects.

“As Americans face rising crime nationwide, Tennessee is equipping law enforcement with the tools needed to keep every community safe,” Lee said. “Unprecedented times call for unprecedented support. I invite all police departments and sheriff’s offices to engage this opportunity so the state can thoughtfully invest these dollars in proven methods that will curb violent crime and strengthen public safety.”

Tennessee crime data shows there were 391 murder cases, 5,608 sex offenses, and 28,536 aggravated assaults in 2011. Since then, violent crime statistics have risen most years. In 2021, there were 697 murders, 5,735 sex offenses, and 38,402 aggravated assaults.

The violent crime intervention fund was included in the state’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget.

The state has also made additional investments to support law enforcement. This includes 100 new state highway patrol troopers, $30 million in recruitment and retention bonuses for new police officers, and $24 million to supplement the training of recruits.

Tennessee hopes to bolster forces by encouraging out-of-state transfers.

Lee celebrated the new investments on Twitter.

The new investment resembles Florida’s own approach to attracting law enforcement officers. In November 2021, Florida Governor Ron Desantis promised a hefty bonus to officers from New York, Minneapolis, and Seattle if they moved to Florida.

He later signed H.B. 3 into law to further highlight the great divide between police-friendly Republican states and ‘defund the police’ Democrat-led states. This law allocated $20 million to law enforcement recruitment and retention efforts, a lesser amount than what Tennesee just approved. Florida’s plan includes sign-on bonuses, relocation expenses, a Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program for children of officers, and pay raises.

The investment continues to recruit officers from out of state as illustrated by the hand delivery of $5,000 bonuses by DeSantis to Cape Coral officers who, as new recruits, served through Hurricane Ian.

Four of the officers came from out-of-state with two from New York, and one each from Maryland and Georgia.