In an effort to reduce gun violence, particularly among youths, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is launching three gun violence initiatives today, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. During the last two years, 118 juveniles were ordered to face charges as adults on gun-related charges. Wharton has likened gun crimes to a public health problem that requires a comprehensive attack. A team funded through a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies has met with everyone from gang members to CEOs, police, pastors, and community leaders.
Its goal is reducing youth gun violence by 10 percent citywide and 20 percent in two target areas by September 2014. The first three initiatives are The Retaliatory Violence Project, to prevent the eye-for-an-eye mentality that often leads to retaliation shootings and other violence. Officers will be trained to spot conflicts and prevent their escalation. The Youth Intervention Team will assign case workers to mentor and monitor at-risk youths one-on-one in two target areas that were chosen because of high rates of gun crimes by young offenders. They’ll also head to area hospitals to talk with young adults who are shot in an attempt to prevent retaliation. A Summer Challenge to youths includes a pledge to avoid guns.