Two top-level members of the Obama administration met yesterday with Memphis officials and community activists to work out a plan to reduce youth violence, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Yes, they have a plan,” said University of Memphis criminologist Richard Janikowski after a discussion with Matthew Yale, deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of Education, and Margaret Richardson, counselor to the Attorney General for executive branch relations.
The Memphis plan is being modeled after one being developed for Chicago. Last fall, President Obama sent Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to Chicago to meet with officials, parents, and students after the beating of a 16-year-old, whose death Sept. 24 was captured on a cell phone video. In the past, anti-crime programs with federal support have fallen by the wayside because there was not a local infrastructure to serve as a platform. But since 2006, Memphis’ Shelby County crime reduction initiative, Operation Safe Community, has remained viable. It’s estimated that up to half the crime in Memphis might be related to gangs.