Over the past week I’ve received a LOT of e-mails about the crime situation in Memphis – city-wide, not just downtown – and how it’s getting completely out of hand. People have asked me to post details of particular crimes, and use my blog to ask the people in power to do something.

I appreciate all the e-mails, and I sympathize with them. Only a few days ago I cautioned that the lax security on Beale Street was going to lead to problems, and sure enough there was an incident involving a gun down there this past weekend. I’m also aware of how bad crime has gotten in Midtown – friends of mine have been victims, and the situation there has definitely deteriorated over the past 12 months.

However, I CAN’T let this blog become “the crime blog” like it did for a couple of weeks last June. Some good results did come from it, but it took too much out of me and it felt like my blog wasn’t my own for a while. Besides, a blog isn’t the best way to draw attention to the issue on the Web – public forums/bulletin boards are, where everyone can post, not just one person.

I don’t have time to set up and administer forums (I’m swamped right now) but here are the basic steps if someone wants to pick up the idea and run with it:

1) Purchase a web hosting account – I use GoDaddy but there are many other good hosts out there if you have a different preference. This should cost no more than $7 a month. Make sure the account is capable of running PHP, a popular web scripting language. Register a domain name to associate with it.

2) Install phpBB on the new web hosting account. This is forum software which is very popular, easy to configure and free. There are other alternatives out there if you have different forum software that you like better than phpBB.

3) Once the forums are up and running, put the word out that the site is there. Encourage people to register for the forums and post their thoughts on crime in Memphis. Eventually the site will build a following and city leaders will have to pay attention to it – just like they did my blog last year – but this time they’ll be hearing MANY voices, not just mine.

If anyone decides to do this, a couple of recommendations: Don’t allow anonymous posting – require users to register and log in to post. Also, I recommend that you make it a policy to immediately remove any posts containing racist content, and to ban users who repeatedly make such posts. If you don’t see why this is necessary, pull up any of Thaddeus Matthews’ posts and take a look at what gets left in his comments section.

If anyone decides to do this, let me know – I’ll be happy to give you as much publicity as I can in my blog, and I’ll participate in the forums as a user/concerned citizen. That way everyone can have a say about crime, and I’ll be able to keep this blog as it currently is.