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Memphis Summit On Preventing Youth Violence


Chosen by the Obama Administration as one of six initial cities to take part in the
National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, Memphis will today present its
community-based plan to reduce youth violence by 25 percent in five years.

Washington, D.C. – Even with a historic 23% drop in violent crime in Memphis since 2006, violent crimes involving youth – as victims and perpetrators – have remained a particularly challenging aspect of the overall public safety discussion. In ramping up efforts locally, Memphis and Shelby County Officials are in Washington, D. C. today presenting comprehensive,community-based youth violence prevention plan in line with its participation as one of six selected cities with the Obama Administration’s National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention.

President Obama launched the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention in October 2010. The goal of the Forum is to use multi-disciplinary partnerships, balanced approaches, and data-driven strategies to address youth violence Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Memphis, Tenn.; Salinas, Calif.; and San Jose, Calif., were selected based on need, geographic diversity, and willingness and capacity to develop comprehensive plans.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. remarked, “It is an honor for our city to have been selected to take part in this historic initiative. Calling all of our leaders and stakeholders around the table on this particular issue was very easy given that we stay around the table working collaboratively on a range of critical issues.”

The Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan (“Memphis Plan”) has been developed by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission in partnership with the City of Memphis Government; Shelby County Government; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee; the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office; the Memphis Police Department; Memphis City Schools; and the Center for Community Criminology and Research and the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (CBANA) both at the University of Memphis. Insight and perspectives from a multitude of community stakeholders, youth, and interested citizens have also helped to shape the final plan which will be presented and discussed during this two-day summit.

“Since fall 2010, we have had a commendable level of commitment from diverse agencies and organizations throughout Memphis and Shelby County to develop a plan that builds on community partnerships to fully address youth violence,” said Michelle Fowlkes, executive director of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission. “Memphis’ participation in the Summit is the culmination of many months of dedication and serves as an unprecedented opportunity for our community to garner national recognition and longterm partnership opportunities,” added Fowlkes.

“This initiative shows how government, schools, faith-based organizations and other agencies have unified their efforts to help reduce youth violence. We believe our approach is a great example of how to address this critical issue in our community,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr.

Other leading officials who have been fully engaged in this effort shared the following insight and comments:

  • There is nothing more important than the healthy growth and development of our youth, the future of our city.  That is why we are proud in Memphis to serve as a national model for both urban education reform and youth violence prevention.”

“We are pleased with the initial results of our innovative programs aimed at reducing youth violence and crime in and around our schools. Our Truancy Assessment Centers, Gang Reduction and Saving Societies Youth (GRASSY) program, School House Adjustment Program Enterprise (SHAPE), and comprehensive Kingian Non Violence Training, as well as strong collaboration with our community partners, especially the Memphis Police Department, are all essential to our success.”

Kriner Cash, Ed. D.
Superintendent, Memphis City Schools

  • “The Memphis Police Department’s Blue C.R.U.S.H. strategy has played a major role in helping to decrease violent crimes by over 23% in our city since 2006. However, youth violence remains a serious concern in our community. Our future as a community is our youth. Tragically, over half of those arrested for a violent crime are 24 and under and 42% of the victims are youth. This community-wide strategic plan ensures that our young people are protected from violence, that effective and evidence-based strategies and programs are in place to prevent youth from becoming involved in violence, and that those who commit violent acts are made accountable while providing them opportunities for treatment and rehabilitation.”

  • Larry Godwin
    Director, Memphis Police Department

  • “We have created an ambitious goal of reducing youth violence in Memphis by 25 percent in five years. This is a strong, strategic-based plan that will help us reach our goal. The youth violence prevention plan will also serve as the cornerstone of Operation: Safe Community 2, the continuation of the initiative that's helped dramatically reduce crime in Memphis and Shelby County.”
Bill Gibbons
Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
Chair, Operation: Safe Community

  • 'Everyday my office sees the effects of young people committing violent crimes and being victimized by violent crimes. But when you meet mothers who have lost more than one child to violence, you realize we have to do more. That is why my office is fully committed to this initiative. We have to be. Our youth are our most valuable and vulnerable asset.”

    Amy Weirich
    Shelby County District Attorney General

  • “Youth violence and gang activity continue to be a problem in our community and needs to be comprehensively addressed through prevention, intervention, re-entry and enforcement strategies. As detailed in the Plan, we intend to target high poverty and high crime areas initially, since youth violence continues to be a pervasive problem in these

    Dr. Richard Janikowski
    University of Memphis
  •  “Juvenile Court is fully committed to early intervention to prevent children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system. Once in the system, the goal is to keep them from getting deeper through rehabilitation services including assessment, education, and monitored probation.”

    Larry Scroggs
    Chief Administrative Officer, Shelby County Juvenile Court
  •  “Economic growth is dependent on safe streets and high quality of life. Good news is Memphis crime is on a downward trajectory and jobs growth is responding.”

    Blair Taylor
    Memphis Tomorrow

 “The goals of the faith-based community as part of the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan are to collaborate with the efforts of our Memphis and Shelby County Mayors and law enforcement officials, as well as with one another, to provide neighborhood based networks utilizing multiple strategies to effectively address youth violence.”

Pastor Keith Norman
First Baptist Church - Broad

The federal government’s unprecedented level of involvement on this critical issue is a
point highlighted by all.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the city of Memphis,” said U. S. Representative
Steve Cohen. “From the first meeting in my office with officials at the Departments of Education and Justice and key Administrative and local community stakeholders, I knew this initiative was going to result in a strong plan moving forward that will reduce youth violence in our neighborhoods and continue to make Memphis a safer place.”

“Any violence perpetrated by or upon our youth -- the future of our communities -- is unacceptable. This vital initiative sponsored by the Department of Justice in conjunction with the comprehensive plan of action submitted by the team of stakeholders from Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee will bring to bear a more strategic and proactive  approach to combating youth violence. Ensuring the implementation of this worthy program is a top priority of the United States Attorney's Office," said United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Edward L. Stanton, III.

In addition to the Department of Justice, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy provide technical assistance to Forum’s participating cities. More localities are expected to join the Forum.

In commemoration of the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles, Pastor of the Monumental Baptist Church, will reflect on Dr. King’s life-long commitment to nonviolence and offer a nationwide call to action during the April 4th lunch.

More details about the Forum and summaries of the city plans are available at

The Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan is being spearheaded by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, at the request of Mayor Wharton and Mayor Luttrell, and will be fully implemented as an integral initiative of Operation: Safe Community II. Founded in 1997, the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission is an independent, non-profit organization that has engaged more than 60 public and private agencies to implement the OSC plan’s 15 research-based strategies. For more information visit


 Shalishah Franklin Bobby White 
 Memphis Shelby Crime Commission  City of Memphis
 901-219-0648  901-484-6221

Vasco A. Smith, Jr. County Administration Building • (901) 222-2300
160 North Main Street Memphis TN 38103
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