MEMPHIS, TN - Memphis and Shelby County are sending a powerful message to gangs, saying they've had enough.
The Metro Gang Unit was a joint operation between the Memphis Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff's Office.
It disbanded in December 2005. Within the last 12 months, the county's elected a new sheriff, the city has a new police director and the county has a new district attorney. All three have one goal: to cut down on gangs and gang activity.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says, "It made no sense to all the parties, for a city this size with a gang problem the way we've had one, not to have a comprehensive unit to address that."
Each agency has been working separately to address the gang problem. But District Attorney General Amy Weirich says it's necessary for them to work together because of how often gangs move around.
"We have a tough situation in Memphis with our gangs," Weirich says. "A lot of other major metro areas, their gangs have pockets of the community and that is their turf. We don't have that easy of a job."
About getting an official unit Armstrong says, "All of the parties have talked and we agree it's necessary, we're about one meeting away from it being initiated."
Armstrong says the city and county will get help from US Marshals and the ATF in developing and implementing a successful plan.
The next step is getting experts from each office together to come up with a solid vision of what the program will look like and how it will cut down on violence.
"If you look across the city, there's not a community that at some point gang violence has not been an issue," Armstrong tells abc24.com. "It's time for us to realize that and it's time for us to take another step."
City and county leaders aren't saying when the new Metro Gang Unit will be and running on the streets again.