By Matthew Barton
Note: The following op-ed item is provided by DeSoto County District Attorney-elect Matthew Barton.
The 2023 murder and homicide map for Memphis reveals an unsettling reality of our neighbor to the north. It also provides an unquestionable perspective to the challenges we, as a county, face due to our geographical location.
The dotted map is a result of what we have known for quite some time — that weak bail, light (sometimes non-existent) punishment, and the calls to defund the police in 2020 by Democrats are fueling the rise in crime and recidivism across America. Crime is off the charts and criminals are undeterred and running wild due to weak district attorneys and progressive prosecutors.
And the Mid-South is not immune.
If the dotted map is not cause for concern, the wide-open southern border, in today’s unpredictable and dangerous world, should be. It is all exacerbated by an open border – from fentanyl to gangs to the evil that preys on our most vulnerable, our children.
According to the House Judiciary Committee, more than 99 percent of illegal immigrants who crossed the border between Jan 2021 and March 2023 remain here in the United States. And they are not confined to the border states.
At the same time, major violent crime has increased 60 percent in Memphis so far for 2023 according to The University of Memphis and the Memphis and Shelby County Crime Commission. And other stats for other crimes do not look much better. Major property crimes increased 43 percent in Memphis and 42 percent in Shelby County compared to last year.
If that’s not enough, businesses of all sizes feel the effects of record-level crime. The failure to punish looters and other crimes are leaving business no choice but to close up shop or move elsewhere.
We witnessed this with the Mall of Memphis in 2003. We witnessed this with Hard Rock Cafe just last year. And we are seeing it with some of America’s oldest department stores, like Macy’s. And if we are not proactive, it will happen here.
Our proximity to Memphis calls for an offensive approach if we are going to keep our high property values, safe communities, and good schools here in DeSoto County.
It is one of the reasons why I ran for District Attorney, and on the premise to stop Memphis and save DeSoto County.
That means, to be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow, we need swift justice and tough prosecutorial standards for any and all crimes in DeSoto County. As your Chief Prosecutor, I will deliver instant consequences for lawlessness, advocate for robust staffing that will allow us to meet the demands of a growing county, and send a clear message to dangerous criminals that DeSoto County is not your playground. I will do all of this because nothing is of more importance than advocating for our victims and protecting our future generations.