SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — As 2022 comes to a close, the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission president reflects on the violence and what needs to change.
This year, WREG focused making a Gun Safe Memphis, and as we’ve learned, there’s hope two things made a difference.
“Mayor [Jim] Strickland has pointed out that time and time again that violent crime is our major challenge. I think he’s correct,” crime commission president Bill Gibbons said. “We still have one of the highest violent crimes rates in the nation, but we can take some encouragement that so far this year, it’s going down.”
He credits a couple of things like the new unit MPD created to handle all non-fatal shootings.
He said the violent crime is driven by the number of aggravated assaults. The unit launched in June and have already handled hundreds of cases.
We asked MPD for more information on their progress, but haven’t heard back.
Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis told us before the investigators concentrate on solving aggravated assaults.
“Persons involved in these type of shootings are likely to be your next murder. They’re likely to be the next suspect in a drive by shooting,” she told us in a 2021 interview.
The second thing Gibbons believes helped curb the violent crime is a city program that aims at stopping retaliatory violence. It’s called the Group Violence Intervention Program.
“Someone is disrespected and wants to get back and someone else. A lot of our aggravated assaults involve that action,” Gibbons said.
The program’s goal is to asses a shooting, try to intervene and prevent any retaliation from happening. They work on the streets, in the schools and hospitals. Once they talk the person down, they offer support and services.
Gibbons said juvenile violence didn’t let up this year. He said next year it will be a big topic of discussion.
He said we need more funding for youth organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and offer more support services to children when they commit the first nonviolent offense.
He said property crime was also another issue this year. He reported car thefts and car break-ins drove the increase.
“I think it is encouraging that people are concerned about it and want to do something about it. Part of it involves changes in state laws. Part of it involves beefing up our police department,” he said. “We need what I call a healthy sense of urgency.”