Memphis pastor has high hopes for witness protection program

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A prominent faith leader hopes initiating Tennessee’s first witness protection program will help put a dent in a skyrocketing crime rate.

“I had an 8-year-old girl whose family are members of this church, standing in her mother’s kitchen, dropped dead shot by a stray bullet,” said Dr. Bill Adkins, pastor of Greater Imani Church in Raleigh.

Dr. Adkins said he initiated the program after his growing frustration around crime in Memphis.  His church donated $10,000 to help start the program called 901WRAP.

District Attorney Amy Weirich said the funds will be used to protect people who provide information crucial to solving violent crimes and witnesses who testify in court.

“It takes a community to get us turned around,” said Weirich.

The Shelby County Crime Commission donated $150,000 to the program.

“Memphis right now is one of the worse places in America to live according to numerous publications. We’re one of the most dangerous cities in America and we don’t want that. Look at what happened on Beale Street the other night. We don’t want that. We don’t need that as part of the city,” said Dr. Adkins.

Organizers are hoping to raise more funds for the program from faith communities, businesses and private citizens.