UPDATE: The Juvenile Crime Abatement Program is on pause for now, said Paul Young with the Downtown Memphis Commission on Monday. Young said he and others plan to meet with MPD Chief C.J. Davis to discuss it. See new story here.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new Memphis Police Department program aimed the reducing youth crime across Downtown Memphis is now underway. Despite the initiative being praised by some, there’s a real concern for others.
In recent weeks, Memphis Police says they have noticed an influx youth engaging in crimes ranging from reckless driving to auto thefts.
“The Memphis Police department will continue to enforce the laws and address these issues,” Asst. Chief Don Crowe said.
In a pre-recorded video, MPD announced that they have created a Juvenile Crime Abatement Program for downtown.
“We will create an environment primarily for adult patrons after hours, free of unruly juvenile behavior and mischievous activities,” Crowe said.
It’s an intent that’s being questioned by some in the community after a leaked presentation from MPD, which WREG reviewed, claims that officers could target juveniles for various reasons such as selling candy, inappropriate clothing or even those dancing in the street.
Joshua Adams is member of Black Lives Matter’s Memphis chapter and believes that this Crime Abatement Program could adversely affect minorities.
“I feel like there’s a major element of danger that is coming youth downtown,” Adams said. “It doesn’t seem to be about safety. It’s seems more about tormenting and stacking people with charges, whether that’s the youth themselves or their families.”
Not only do Memphis Police plan on holding youth accountable by arresting them but their but parents as well.
If parents or guardians refuse to pick up their children, they could be turned over to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and MPD could advocate for them to face child abandonment charges.
Despite the intention behind the initiative, some community members are left questioning if the program will be a success.
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“It’s too much crime going on in this city for you to be trying something in this area. If you go do it, you need to do it or whoever came with that program they need to clock out,” Kenny Lee, community activist said.
The Juvenile Crime Abatement Program could be expanded to other parts of the city, according to police officials.
We have reached out MPD for additional information about the program and are still waiting on a response as of Sunday night.