Businesses hope to deter criminals, panhandlers with new program

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - "Stay away" is the message some Cooper-Young businesses are sending to panhandlers and criminals.

It's a move meant to promote safety in the popular district, and a dozen businesses have already signed up.

If you live, shop or eat in Cooper-Young, you may start to see "No Trespassing" signs popping up on local businesses.

Several business owners said this initiative is about keeping the area safe.

"He was very vulgar. He refused to leave; we had to call the police," said Pamela Lee about one interaction.

That encounter encouraged Lee to register her business Cooper Cottage School for the Anti-Trespass program, sponsored by Shelby County District Attorney's Office.

But Frank Roberts added his five businesses to the list after finding graffiti on his property.

"If business don't do it, it's an absence of a positive," Roberts said.

Each business owner has a different reason, but so far 13 Cooper-Young businesses have put up No Trespass signs, as a part of the program.

The program is typically used in apartment communities, but now business communities are using it has a way to prosecute trespassers faster.

"They are arrested immediately because the notification is there," Lee said.

In the past, business owners would have to have a previous complaint filed in order for a trespasser to be arrested. But now, with a sign posted in the window, police can act as soon as they are called out.

"It allows for us to add an extra point of security," Lee said.

So far, not all Cooper-Young businesses are on the list but these business owners said those who are on the list are helping to keep Cooper-Young safe.

"What we are doing here is adding to that dimension, and keeping it safe and help to dispel any perception to the contrary," Roberts said.

The Cooper-Young businesses have been a part of the program for just a couple of weeks.

For those business owners still interested in signing up, you can contact the Shelby County District Attorney's Office at 901-222-1300 for more information.

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