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"We don't have enough people rolling up their sleeves" | Memphis Police Chief recruits mentors, eases concerns in midst of violent summer

Chief CJ Davis - back from a White House meeting Monday - answered questions and received feedback at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Tuesday.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "We can't arrest crime away," Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said Tuesday afternoon to dozens of Memphis Clergy in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

For her, the meeting was served as part Q & A session, part recruitment pitch.

"We don't have enough people rolling up their sleeves to keep young people out of the hands of law enforcement," Chief Davis said.

Chief Davis' message of adding more mentors to assist MPD carries new urgency, with Memphis at risk of surpassing 2020's record homicide total. That includes the recent deadly drive by shooting of Kelby Shorty while he watched fireworks in north Memphis.

"A 7-year-old on 4th of July weekend lost his life to that same type of scenario. Something has to be done. We should be angry about that," Chief Davis said.

The city's top top told local pastors she'll meet Wednesday with the Tennessee Highway Patrol on another area of concern - interstate shootings - with 70 such reports of someone being shot or shot at as of last week. 

"We could always use more troopers," Chief Davis said. "I'm waiting to see exactly what their situation is and be considerate, you know, for what their manpower needs are."

Chief Davis spent Monday at the White House meeting with President Biden and others in law enforcement.

As early as next week, Memphis leaders could outline specifically how $63 million in available federal dollars could be spread out to pay for things such as officer overtime, more mentors, and new technology.

"It provided hope that jurisdictions aren't fighting these issues alone and that federal resources are coming our way," Chief Davis said.

In the days ahead, Chief Davis plans to meet with Juvenile Court officials on ways to improve counseling services, with the hope of preventing later offenses when those same juveniles are adults.

    

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