Memphis mayor describes city’s new violence intervention program after weekend shootings

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis’ mayor spoke Monday with WREG about a program he says is needed that he hopes will help cut down on crime.

The conversation comes after at least 14 people were shot, and six killed, in violence over the weekend.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says while he’s frustrated, he has a new program he plans to introduce to city council soon: The Group Violence Intervention Program.

“It’s worked in other cities and it’s an intense interaction with those people who are in a life of crime or thinking of getting in a life of crime,” Strickland said about the program.

He gave the example of someone involved in a shooting, who could be linked to other criminal activity. 

“We’ll send a caseworker in and talk to that person in the hospital and say, ‘Hey, you need to put this behind you and we’ll help you,” Strickland said. “We’ll help you find a place to live, pay some bills and get some job training, get a job, we’ve done it before. Now if you don’t and if you don’t do that, you don’t want to get on the right path you’re either going to die or you’re going to spend time in jail.”

The plan is to have four full-time employees dedicated to the program. 

As Memphis saw a violent weekend, the city’s current police director, Mike Rallings is set to retire this week.

Strickland touted the more than 30-year experience of current deputy director Mike Ryall, who will step in as interim director. 

“We are in really good hands,” he said.

He expects to have his selection to city council in the next few weeks for his pick for the city’s next top cop, choosing from eight candidates.

“We had quite a few out of towners apply so we’re really digging deeper into their records to do our due diligence. I’d rather get it right than do it fast,” Strickland said.

The mayor has also set a goal to have LED lights throughout the city in two years, to make sure criminals have a harder time hiding in the shadows. 

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