MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Frustration is mounting and concerns are getting louder when it comes to juvenile crime. That’s why WREG Investigators will spend this week looking at the issues related to kids and crimes — exposing issues and telling real success stories in hopes of making Memphis a safer place.
Some leaders are calling it an urgent problem. Shelby County Juvenile Court has made it very clear that adults are responsible for most of the crime.
Still, it’s that small number of children causing a lot of concern.
“If you look at the serious violent charges, it looks like we will have around 400 juveniles charged with serious, violent crimes this year,” said Bill Gibbons, president of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, which tracks juvenile crime arrests.
If you compare the data so far this year to last year, the number of juveniles arrested for serious charges dropped slightly, though that doesn’t include unsolved incidents.
“The number one charge is aggravated assaults, which is mostly with guns. Number two is carjacking. Number three is aggravated robberies,” Gibbons explained.
Memphis police told the council it arrested more than 4,000 juveniles last year, including more than 500 for motor vehicle theft.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy says juvenile arrests have actually decreased in the last decade across Tennessee, including Shelby County.
Still, local law enforcement has told the council solving juvenile crime is time consuming.
“We know a lot of our young people are breaking into cars and stealing cars as almost a dare or a trend right now. They’re finding it easy to do,” Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis said to the council earlier this year.
Through the Tennessee Open Records Act, we uncovered the juvenile summons MPD has issued. The most common charges are simple assault and drugs.
Looking at 2019 through the first part of this year, MPD reported most of the children they gave a summons to were boys between 16 and 17 years old.
Children as young as 7 were on MPD’s list, cited for disorderly conduct. An 11- and 12-year-old were nabbed for aggravated assault this year.
As this graph shows, dozens more for curfew violations according to MPD.
Crime victims have told us time and time again, they want answers.
“It’s like, how can you be out here causing havoc at 2-3 in the morning? You’re not accountable for being somewhere?” victim Dorian Berry said.
Monday night, we’re going to start with a Memphis father’s story. He said a group of teens shot at him — and he wasn’t their only victim.
Hear what happened once the teens were into custody that has left him fuming Monday on News Channel 3 at 10. That story and more will be online at WREG.com under the Kids And Crime section of the home page.