Retired MPD colonel says prayer and youth programs have reduced crime in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A retired Memphis police colonel says he witnessed a reduction in crime at two precincts because of the power of prayer.

He says those groups also had successful programs in place that steered teens away from crime.

That motivated pastors to hold a prayer vigil in Whitehaven Friday.

James Kirkwood, a retired colonel with the Memphis police department, spoke with FOX13 hours before that prayer vigil in Whitehaven.  The vigil comes on the same week Memphis Councilwoman Patrice Robinson told FOX13 Memphis is in a state of emergency after learning 19 children were murdered so far this year.

“That’s how crime was reduced.  We all came together and targeted whatever the problems was,” said Kirkwood.

Kirkwood is leading the effort because he says he witnessed crime reduction in 2016 when Frayser pastors held 72 days of prayer and led programs steering teens away from violence.  Kirkwood said because of that, crime has reduced near the Old Allen Precinct in Frayser and the Raines Precinct where he worked.

“We had a reduction in crime in every area.  Burglaries went down, property crimes went down.  Violent crimes went down,” he said.

Kirkwood says it’s not just prayer that’s making a difference.  He says programs like 901 Bloc Squad can save lives too.  The group includes former gang members like Delvin Lane, who is showing teens a better path than violence.

“We’ve had situations where a kid was shot in the leg by another kid. Before the paramedics got there, we were called out. We were able to get the victim as well as the suspect together, mediate before the paramedics showed up,” Laned stated.

“Instead of the court system, we moved them through different programs through our churches,” Kirkwood added.

To learn more about 901 Bloc Squad, click here.