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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor Jim Strickland used his State of the City address Thursday to address the violent crime plaguing the city, introducing an initiative called Group Violence Intervention Plan, or GVIP.

The new plan comes after a record 332 people died violently in Memphis in 2020.

“For me personally it’s been one of the most frustrating and challenging obstacles I’ve faced during my time as mayor,” Strickland said.

The mayor said GVIP approaches have worked in other cities. According to the National Gang Center, the program is credited with a 63% reduction in teen homicides in Boston. The findings also say it helped curb crime in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Stockton, California. 

The comprehensive plan works to change individual behaviors and collective norms.

It will be complemented by non-police agencies who will perform intense violence interruption, intervention, prevention and outreach, Strickland said.

Strickland said he will appoint a full-time staff of four from his office whose only job will be to work on the new GVIP program.

Learn more about the GVIP program.

The plan includes suppression, intervention, prevention, community mobilization and organized change. 

Strickland also announced the city is bringing better lighting to help deter crime in neighborhoods. In the next few weeks the city will work with companies to convert 84,000 street lights across the city to LED bulbs.

“By doing this, we will be bringing much needed and significantly improved lighting to every neighborhood in Memphis,” he said. “No longer will criminals have safe harbor to operate under the cover of darkness.”