MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Community members met with Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis and other law enforcement professionals for a community crime forum.
“Every community should be at the table," one attendee said. "When we’re bringing solutions to the community, and we haven’t even talked to the people, it ain’t gonna work.”
Hundreds gathered at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church to listen to city and state leaders present solutions to Memphis crime as the new year started.
"We’re trying to get some ideas," Stevie Moore founder of Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives (FFUN) said. "We can’t continue to stay silent and not do nothing and watch our children keep destroying their lives."
Many attendees hoped the conversation moderated by leaders from the Memphis Crime Commission would lead to actionable steps that will quail the constant crime and violence committed by minors and young adults in Shelby County.
"I’m very concerned about what’s going on in the city of Memphis lately and our young people and the need for us to be active," attendee Andrae Matthews said.
Panelists included representatives from Youth Villages, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS), Shelby County juvenile court judge Tarik Sugarmon and Memphis Police chief CJ Davis.
“Community members are there every day, chief Davis said. "They see what’s going on, and what we want to do is continue to build and foster trust, so that we are solving problems and crime together.”
According to Memphis police, in 2022 there were over 2,000 criminal suspects that were under the age of 18.
Car thefts are one of the more frequent crimes in Memphis and last year saw 10,000 vehicles stolen or vandalized, according to Chief Davis.
It's a solution, one attendee says "starts at home."
"What happens when a young person returns home, and nothing has changed in their family environment in their ecology where they grow up?"
It is that specific question that Memphis Allies’ 'SWITCH’ program is working to answer.
The program is designed to directly work with youth in the juvenile court system.
Switch, "Support With The Intention To Create Hope," provides on-call, 24/7 therapists and life coaches, five to seven days a week for up to a year.
They say the goal is to shift youth perspectives and address mental health issues while creating a healthy balance between law enforcement, prevention and intervention.
“What are we doing if we’re not taking charge of our communities by ourselves?" 14-year-old Kushmir Muhammad said. "This is a home issue, so how are we going to look on the outside without solidifying what’s going on on this inside."