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Shelby County Commission calls crime a public health concern, lends support to 2017 crime reduction plan

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Crime on the streets has made its way to the discussions of Shelby County Commission.

“Today we heard about two young people raped en route to school. That is unacceptable in Shelby County," Commissioner Mark Billingsley said.

In fact, Commissioner Mark Billingsley said crime has become a public health issue.

Elected officials, prosecutors and law enforcement all resolved to work together to get it under control.

“The biggest thing we can do is fund appropriate resources. And also to invest in a child on the front end. If you don’t invest in a child on the front end, you will pay for it three or four-fold on the back end,” Billingsley said.

Operation: Safe Community Chair Amy Weirich launched the third iteration of the plan on Jan. 1.

She said it will make a difference in the coming months, especially in keeping kids out of jail.

She highlighted the proposed creation of a juvenile assessment center as a diversion for juvenile offenders.

The model had already worked in Miami, District Attorney General Weirich said.

“What the juvenile assessment center would do that’s different from what's being done now is every juvenile offender would be taken to the center 24 hours a day, seven days a week and a full and complete assessment would be done on that offender,” Weirich said.

The Memphis Shelby Crime Commission is also getting lessons from New Orleans, specifically a crime reduction plan called NOLA Life.

“Much of what NOLA life is focused on is similar to what the Operation: Safe Community 3 plan is with juvenile crime,” Weirich said.

She also said she was reorganizing the DA's office to assign a dedicated prosecutor to troubled precincts.

“We need everybody’s help to move the needle," Billingsley said.