Greenlaw Community Center will not be used as holding facility for curfew violators

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 10:38 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After push-back from neighbors, activists, and stakeholders, the Greenlaw Community Center in Uptown Memphis will not be used as a holding facility for curfew breakers. Memphis Police and the Strickland administration made that announcement during a meeting filled with fireworks.

“Get up out of our community center! This is all we have left!” one woman shouted at MPD Chief CJ Davis and the officers assembled as tempers flared.

”Will this be a holding place for kids who are out past curfew?” another man asked.

With car thefts and car break-ins surging downtown, and teens committing much of that crime according to MPD, Uptown residents worried their beloved community center would be turned into a holding facility for kids caught breaking curfew.

“I understand there is a very real push to make downtown really attractive, and that the youth who are out past curfew deter from that goal. We, the uptown community, are not interested in playing second fiddled to the e-commerce of downtown,” said one Uptown resident.

Chief Davis quickly put all the uncertainty to rest: ”This was never intended to be any type of detention facility,” she said, “This initiative was to take programs we already have in the police department and house them under one umbrella. It had nothing to do with curfew.”

Davis said MPD is moving its Community Engagement Unit into Greenlaw, sharing the space with City of Memphis Parks and Recreation staff.

MPD programs offered include: the Citizens Police Academy, MPD Girl Scout Troops, Boxing Gym, Explorer’s, and Youth Crime Watch.

The community center, said MPD, will still serve the immediate community. As for the crack down on juvenile crime?

“Where are the children going to be taken if they’re found after curfew?” asked one resident.

Chief Davis’ response: “You will not see our officers picking up young people after curfew hours because quite frankly we don’t have the capacity to pick children up and take them wherever they need to go, and unfortunately there aren’t any facilities with the capacity to take in great numbers of children who are out on the street.”

Another MPD officer said they can, if need be, take curfew violators to local precincts or back home to their parents.

MPD doesn’t have a move-in date yet for the Greenlaw Community Center, because the building is still being renovated. Police and city leaders agreed a second community meeting is needed. The next one is scheduled for June 13.

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