Memphis mayor and police chief discuss plans to curb gun violence

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As gun violence continues to plague Memphis, the city’s mayor and police chief discussed their plans to curb the problem.

“You can’t arrest crime away and you can’t continue doing the same thing expecting a different result,” said Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis.

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At the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, city leaders shared information about the Group Violence Intervention Program.

It’s a program focused on helping young people avoid a life of crime by offering different services.

Davis said she hired 25 violence interrupters who will get trained then go into the community to offer young people housing help, job training, jobs and more.

While some people in the community are on board with this idea others are skeptical.

“Right now, we have lost so many young people. Families are heartbroken over these losses and it just would be a great idea,” said Michelle Collins.

Collins is struggling with the loss of her 16-year-old son Kobe.

On May 2nd, her son was sitting inside a car with a teenage girl when another car drove by and fired shots at them.

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Kobe didn’t make it.

“Other mothers and families won’t have to grieve the way I’m grieving and dealing with the loss of a 16-year-old son, my oldest son,” said Collins.

Collins said something needs to be done so she supports the city’s group violence interruption program or GVIP.

Tuesday, Davis and Mayor Jim Strickland met with the SCLC and said it’s a program the city desperately needs, especially now that at least 12 children died in gun violence this year.

Both discussed how other law enforcement in Oakland and Newark, New Jersey saw a decrease in the crime rate with similar crime prevention programs.

Others, like activist LJ Abraham, are skeptical.

“When it comes down to it, resources need to go into the community. It’s something they’ve been talking about for five years,” said Abraham.

Abraham feels like more money is going towards the Police Department instead of the community.

She would like to see more investment in mental health services, community programs and technical schools in Memphis.

Abraham agreed that something needs to get done soon to curb gun violence but she isn’t sure GVIP will do much.

“To say I want to stop crime we are going to use this money to buy—where can we see facts, can we see what actually comes out of this?” asked Abraham.

Chief Davis did not say when the program will officially start.

Right now, she is working on hiring more violence interrupters.

As for when we will see results from the program, Strickland said it could take about a year.