Rash of teen violence sparks change in Memphis

Rash of teen violence sparks change in Memphis
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)
Memphis Police Department Real Time Crime Center (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Memphis Police Department Real Time Crime Center (Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - Police director Toney Armstrong and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton plan to take action against a recent spike in teen gun violence.

"At the end of the day, our responsibility is to save lives," Armstrong said.

Memphis Police Department plans to step up patrols, and the city will expand community efforts like midnight basketball, hospital violence intervention, and the ambassador program.

"I can remember growing up that Saturday was a day of recreation," Armstrong said. "Saturday is a day now, sadly to say, you know, we're burying our young men. We have to do something to prevent that."

Mayor Wharton says it's important for Memphis officers to have close ties with people living in the city.

MPD's Real Time Crime Center has created a heat map that shows violence is spread out across the entire city. The department plans to use the map to reallocate officers to areas in need.

Before deploying the plan, MPD enlisted the help of local NAACP president Reverend Keith Norman.

"We recognize when there is not an effective communication on the front side, and a proper response during and after, there can be misinterpretation of what is taking place," Norman said.

Norman will head a committee of other pastors and community leaders to spread the message on a grassroots level.

"Our first, our dominant response is let's prevent it in the first place," Wharton said. "It's far too late when you're looking over the body to say what could have been, what should have been done, what potential this young man had."

Armstrong and Wharton say they are sensitive to the matters ongoing in Ferguson, Missouri. They say that won't be an issue in Memphis.

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