Town hall meeting focuses on crime reduction in Memphis
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphians gave local law enforcement leaders a long list of the problems that plague their communities at the latest crime forum that took place Wednesday.
Inside Church of the Holy Communion in East Memphis, a different kind of testimony took place on bible study night.
“Last April, I was in my driveway and I was attacked at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning,” said the first man to walk up to the microphone.
“It’s not a matter of if I’m going to hear gunshots,” said one woman. “It’s a matter of what time I’m going to hear the gunshots.”
“I almost got killed at Airways and Park on Thursday last week by a reckless driver,” said another participant.
Another woman choked up describing crime in her neighborhood,.
“I’ve had two incidents on my street,” she said. “One of them involved an AK-47.”
Citizens shared their crime concerns with Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission president, Bill Gibbons, and Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis, who warned everyone in the crowd to use common sense to avoid becoming a victim.
“Sixty-seven percent of guns that are stolen came from somebody’s car. If we could just do something about that number,” said Davis.
Gibbons explained one of the important crime-fighting tools, especially when dealing with gangs, is violence intervention.
“We are ramping up the number of what I call credible interveners to head off a lot of this retaliatory action we’re seeing,” Gibbons said.
Weirich talked about focused deterrence.
“It’s focused on repeat offenders, violent felony offenders, and sending them the message the community’s tired of the violence and we want them to get on the right path,” she said.
Connecting those offenders with services is key. Reaching children before they turn to a life of crime is also critical for crime prevention. And everyone seemed to be in agreement that the revolving door of justice needs to be stopped.
“If you commit a crime, you got to serve the time, real time,” one community activist told the panel.
Weirich said it’s up to state legislators to change sentencing laws. Davis said it’s up to all of us to make Memphis and Shelby County safe again.
“Everybody has to take a part and be a part of what change looks like in the city,” she said.
Wednesday night’s meeting was sponsored by the Greater Memphis Chamber and the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission. Two more meetings on how to curb gun violence are planned for the month of November.
Tuesday, November 16
The Pursuit of God Church in Frayser
3759 North Watkins
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, November 18
Riverside Missionary Baptist Church in South Memphis
3560 South Third
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
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