MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Gangs and Guns. Those are what law enforcement said is at the center of much of the crime in Memphis.
Currently, there are 144 documented gangs in Memphis, according to Memphis Police. But, according to Major Frank Winston, a Memphis Police Department Gang Unit leader, the established gangs are known national gangs and splinter groups.
"They are somehow tied to what we know as the known gangs, but everyone can't always be the chief. And somehow, someway they want to break off where they are the chief to start their hybrid or neighborhood gangs," said Winston. "We are fighting a very uphill battle, a hard uphill battle."
Winston said there is a difference between gang-related crimes and crimes that gang members commit. Gang-related crimes are meant to advance the gang in some way. Winston noted this year that gang-related murders are down, but there is a lot of crime committed by gang members.
"We are seeing a high number, whether it is auto theft, burglary, theft of motor vehicles. We are finding a lot of suspects we get are gang members."
Winston said the gang members are younger than in years past. He said parents need to do more to watch over their kids.
"You have an obligation to see what your kids are doing and what the community is doing. Right now, crime is so high because the community is accepting this criminal behavior," said Winston.
"We are seeing more kids committing crimes, get out, and the same ones are committing crimes over and over," he continued. "It can be frustrating when you see this kid apprehended and you're doing a job that is required of us. Then later that night, before you get off work, you see him back out."
"It's the parents that are the problem," said Jimmy Chambers, an investigator.
Chambers works for the Shelby County District Attorney's office as an investigator and has a non-profit agency called "Camp Chamber." The agency helps keep kids off the streets.
"I am here to tell them exactly what is going to happen to them if they get incarcerated."
Chambers agreed that younger gang members are committing crimes in our area.
"They go on Facebook and put everything on Facebook, and that makes our job a little easier. We don't have to chase them down anymore. We can go on Facebook, and they are there," said Chambers.
Chambers added that while the public wants gang activity and crime to stop, the bottom line is that this is a community problem.
"You can't think law enforcement is going to stop the problem. It is the parents that are the problem. If the parents would do some investigating on their child, we could stop a lot of this stuff."