MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The hot topic in Memphis is youth crime. Mayor A C Wharton wants to give young people alternatives through summer jobs, midnight basketball, and juvenile safety centers.
“I definitely think it’s a step in the right direction,” Mike Williams, President of the Memphis Police Union, said.
He concedes that Wharton is moving in the right direction.
“I just hope that this is not another feel good kind of thing where we wanna make the public think we are dedicating resources to the children but then we don’t follow through on it,” Williams said.
He also said many of the Mayor’s programs are the same ones cut from the budget. Now it’s time to put money back in communities.
“I give this an A-plus,” Stevie Moore with Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives said about the Mayor’s plan.
Moore gave the Mayor high marks, especially in creating juvenile safety centers for curfew violators.
“If you have somewhere to take them, not to reward them but to give them structure, you can find out what the problem is, why they are out there, where the family is,” Moore said.
He wonders if funding will follow.
City Councilman Harold Collins says it’s not just about dollars – programs have to work. He says the mayor hasn’t focused on training.
“We ought to bring these young people in, provide them job training with Southwest Community College, through Moore Tech and through WIN and give them skills to be unemployable,” Collins said.
Councilman Jim Strickland says the mayor’s plan leaves out something else.
“What he did not say is the need to arrest juveniles who commit violent acts against other people,” Strickland said.
Williams, Collins, and Strickland all have been mentioned as possible candidates for mayor.
Youth crime will likely get a lot of attention in the months to come as next year’s mayor’s race heats up.