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APU Public Administration Graduate Student Develops Creative Alternative to Memphis Crime

Besides providing its students with a valuable education, American Public University (APU) boosts ways to influence positive changes in the country, community and the world.

APU orients some courses so that students’ research can create innovative ways of solving some of society’s problems. For instance, classes in the public management program give pupils the chance to work on real difficulties.

This practical experience is most evident from the capstone program. In this program, graduate students write a thesis or prepare a job presentation for public policy makers who addresses an present community problem.

1 graduate course in public management that facilitates this kind of academic practice is Public Finance (PADM612). The mid-term assignment is composed of a media project. For this assignment, students are asked to prepare an executive summary and a three-minute video to get a county administrator or mayor indicating ways to solve a budget or civic issue in some fashion.

Graduate Student Project Finds Funds to Alleviate Memphis Crime Problem

In 2016, a student named Glenn Harvey, Jr. decided to help his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, fight its growing crime problem. His study determined that all types of crime in town were rising, especially homicides.

This troubling trend was exacerbated by an evolving personnel shortage in the Memphis Police Department (MPD). Glenn found that 432 officers were departing and only 200 were in training to replace them.

In addition, the number of incoming grad police officers would be offset, but by 125 additional officers who were going to retire. Glenn calculated that it would take five years to get the MPD to make it to the proper number of law enforcement officers required for a city the size of Memphis.

SkyCop Surveillance Cameras Improved Security Surveillance in Poor Memphis Neighborhoods

A number of the wealthier communities in Memphis enhanced their security by hosting fundraisers to buy SkyCop surveillance cameras to their own neighborhoods. On the other hand, the weaker, minority areas were not able to take this particular approach.

In 2016, Mayor Jim Strickland and the City Council initiated a Sentinel Program with a budget of $35,000 to buy a few SkyCop cameras for all those poorer neighborhoods. On the other hand, the sum was far short of how much money was actually needed.

For his project, Glenn examined the municipal budget to find ways to move funds into the Sentinel Program so that the city could buy more SkyCop cameras. He noticed that the city library system had a budget in excess of $18 million to operate 17 branches in Shelby County. Glenn calculated that when the library system moved just $2 million to law enforcement, that amount of money could pay for an additional 250 SkyCop detectors to help fight crime during Memphis.

After Glenn received opinions from his instructor on his job, he had been invited to submit his solution to the city for consideration. The Mayor’s office gave Glenn permission to forward his executive summary and three-minute video straight to Mayor Strickland and the City Council.

Two months later, hundreds of SkyCop cameras started to go up in the poorer communities. We don’t know for sure if the cameras came about as a consequence of Glenn’s suggested solution, but the result was much better police surveillance, which was everybody’s goal.

While we cannot be certain of the impact of Glenn’s work on Mayor Strickland along with also the City Council, it is most likely that they were comfortable with his job and possibly influenced by it, as Glenn is a citizen of Memphis trying to enhance the city’s safety.

Students at APU and other institutions of higher learning have the potential to positively affect their communities. Courses such as excited and PADM612 students may really make a difference.

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