Memphis police look to curb gang 'turf wars' - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis police look to curb gang 'turf wars'

Joe Scott Joe Scott

By Nick Kenney - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - After an outbreak of deadly shootings in Memphis, police are cracking down on what they say is the root of the problem: gangs.

In late June, a teenager was stabbed to death in Raleigh, and another man was killed at Life and Thomas.  On July 4, five people were shot at Beale and Fourth.  All of the incidents were part of a violent few weeks in Memphis.

"A lot of the homicides that occurred during that time we found out were turf wars," said Memphis Police Department Deputy Chief Joe Scott.

Police say the Gang Unit the Organized Crime Unit have been analyzing the problem, developing a plan of attack.

Gangs including the Gangster Disciples, Crips and Vice Lords "were investigated as to their illegal activities," Scott said.

Then, the Memphis Police Department launched its Gangs, Guns, and Drugs initiative, where investigators focus on areas affected by the most recent violence.  At the same time, gang activities are analyzed.

"You can't say, 'On this corner, it'll always be a gang,'" Scott said. "That's just not how it works in Memphis.  But there are issues, you know.  (Gangs say) 'You're not supposed to be on my street.'"

From there, Scott said, things can quickly escalate.

"Somebody pulls out a gun, and we have another homicide," he said.

The Gangs, Guns, and Drug campaign started this past weekend, netting 43 arrests.  Scott says it won't stop.

"Getting to the root cause - that's how you eliminate homicides and violence," he said.

Scott said those 43 arrests include everything from felony drug charges to criminal trespassing.

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