Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas addressed the state Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee Wednesday, asking them to allocate more state resources to law enforcement, especially asking for tougher sentencing laws for violent criminals and repeat offenders.
Serpas told legislators that law enforcement needs continue to grow, citing recent state Department of Corrections figures that shows a “50 percent failure rate for inmates released on parole.”
“In other words, of the 3,998 parolees released in the year 2000, 1,984 had been returned to prison with in three years,” he said. “I would argue that when we see this same analysis for today’s criminal, it will be much worse.”
Serpas said that when the state chooses not to spend money to keep violent criminals and repeat offenders behind bars longer, they shift the cost to communities and neighborhoods, creating “new victims and loss of life and innocence.”
He asked legislators to look at sentencing laws that have recently been strengthened in New York and Florida, then rhetorically posed the question, “I wonder what fiscal note calculation process they use?”
Throughout his presentation, Serpas pointed legislators to detailed statistics compiled in Davidson County over the course of a year. Information included crime data for offenses ranging from homicides to auto theft.
In closing, Serpas issued a plea to legislators.
“We need your help, we need your partnership, and we need it soon,” he said. “For surely, local government plays a critical role in crime control, but the State government plays the decisive role through legislating crimes and their punishment.”
“He had some very interesting statistics, but there are many factors that we have to take into account when making budget decisions,” State Sen. Thelma Harper said of Serpas’ presentation.
Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris (Collierville) said, “His information was compelling, he gave me information that I will refer to and value in this next legislative session. So many people come unprepared, he had all the facts.”