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Group violence intervention program approved in Memphis

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 8:56 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Making Memphis safer is the idea behind the city’s new group violence intervention program.

The budget the city council approved Tuesday night will help fund that program with $2 million.

The program is a partnership between the city and several different groups, all of them working to reduce violence by focusing on those most likely to commit it.

Delvin Lane is a former gang leader who turned his life around. He earned a master’s degree and became a high school football coach at Raleigh-Egypt High School. He now helps others do the same thing as the community violence intervention coordinator at 901 BLOC Squad.

“The BLOC stands for ‘better lives opportunities and communities,’” Lane said. “I want these kids to understand that they don’t have to live a life of crime, go to prison. They can be productive citizens in our community.”

901 BLOC squad members like Lane not only visit crime scenes, they also mentor young people. 901 BLOC Squad is partnering with the city’s new Group Violence Intervention Program (GVIP).

The program brings together leaders from government and law enforcement, nonprofits, and anti-violence groups.

Their goal is to interrupt, stopping the people most likely to commit violence, those on probation or parole, for instance, and showing and helping them live a better way of life.

“Just trying to show them a different way than I went down, the road that I went down,” said Lane.

It’s work these groups have already been doing, but the city’s initiative helps them coordinate and strengthen their efforts. Similar programs in other cities have reduced homicides by 35 to as much as 60 percent, according to the National Gang Center.

Lane and city leaders hope Memphis will see that kind of success, especially following a year of record homicides.

Lane says a lot can be accomplished with everyone working together.

“They say it takes the village, but it takes the right kind of village and I think if we all come together as a collective, we’ll see our crime in our city go down,” Lane said.

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan that Congress is considering would provide $5 billion to help fund these types of programs.

Memphis city leaders weren’t available to talk about the program Wednesday, but say they plan to release more information about the program in the coming weeks.

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