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MPD Plan to Curb Juvenile Gun Crime Gaining Momentum

Cracking down on kids with guns by tracking them, that's part of a new plan Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin says will help curb juvenile crime
MEMPHIS, TN - Cracking down on kids with guns by tracking them. That's part of a new plan Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin says will help curb juvenile crime. Eyewitness News was the first to tell you about the plan in July. Director Godwin says the plan is close to becoming a reality.

While violent crime in the City is down dramatically, juvenile crime is proving a very difficult problem to tackle. Director Godwin says 29 juveniles were charged with homicide last year. It's going to take drastic measures to do something about it.

“In 2009, 198 juveniles were handled with illegally possessing a firearm,” said Dir. Godwin. “And, so far to date, we've had 108, pretty much on target to do the same thing again.”

Director Godwin says courts can't do much to get guns out of kids' hands.

“The numbers are still there,” he said. “And it has a lot to do with the things that have been taken away, the local resources that we had or that the judge had. These facilities being taken away, and the kids are placed in foster care, but they're going right back out and committing the same crimes.”

Godwin's plan includes ankle monitors for juveniles caught with guns. Parents must agree to random searches of their kids’ rooms.

“Also, Juvenile Court could order the juvenile go do 40 hours of community service,” said Dir. Godwin. “And that's one area we're still working on, as to what type community service, who will supervise.”

Dir. Godwin says he has heard good feedback from prosecutors and judges. The DA's office would decide which kids are eligible for the program. If offenders obey the rules, they could catch a break in court. Godwin says everyone will have to be on board.

“It's going to have to have parental involvement,” he said. “It's going to have to have a child that's willing to change their life.”

Eyewitness News asked to speak with the people at Juvenile Court about the plan, but Chief Probation Officer Barry Mitchell said they still aren't sure about the details. They want to get everything worked out before giving any comment.

Director Godwin says the MPD is buying monitoring devices with grant money. Offenders will be tracked from the Real Time Crime Center. The cost is about $5 a piece. Godwin says that may be added to the kid's court costs.
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