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Mayor Strickland talks fighting crime in Memphis

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 9:52 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis crime fighters received a $2 million boost from the city council this week, but Mayor Jim Strickland fears Tennessee’s new permitless carry gun law will lead to more gun violence.

The mayor convinced the council to try a new approach, a so-called Group Violence Intervention Program, where teenagers and young people in their 20s caught up in gun violence will get a chance to turn their lives around.

Strickland says the Memphis Police Department currently has 2,400 officers and new police chief, C.J. Davis, will recruit everywhere, including social media.

“It’s Instagram and TikTok. So, that’s where we’re recruiting from,” said Strickland.

Those new recruits might be helped by the mayor’s Group Violence Intervention Program, which aims to team up kids caught up in gun violence with life coaches, so-called interveners.

“Right now, we have 13. We need hundreds to be honest with you. We’re shooting for 50 in the short term who will intervene with these folks and if they want help, then there’s another team that’s going to come in and help them,” Strickland said.

Strickland says partners from agencies like Youth Villages will go into the homes of troubled youth and try to get gang members or want-to-be gangbangers on the right track with a comprehensive lifestyle turnaround opportunity.

“And if you do that on a mass scale, and that’s what we’ve been missing, a mass scale. Thankfully, city council approved $2 million to do this and these interveners, hopefully, are going to be on the street very soon,” said Strickland.

The program starts July 1, the same day Tennessee’s permitless carry gun law takes effect.

“I think it’s going to lead to more gun violence,” said Strickland.

Strickland says he lobbied the governor and legislature to let Memphis opt-out of the permitless carry law that will allow people to walk openly with deadly weapons.

“As they liberalize gun laws in the state legislature, it has a direct negative impact on Memphis citizens,” he said.

Strickland says he wishes city councils, instead of the state, could decide gun laws. He says the new Violence Intervention Program will offer young people a tangible chance, but if they refuse it and continue to use violence, the city will go after them with the full force of the law.

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