Violence Prevention in Memphis and Shelby County
About the Collaboration
Former Shelby County Mayor (and current City of Memphis Mayor) A C Wharton, Jr., former Memphis Mayor Dr. W. W. Herenton, Memphis Tomorrow (an association of chief executive officers of Memphis' largest enterprises), the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and a diverse array of public and private partners began Memphis Fast Forward in 2005 as a plan to accelerate economic growth and improve quality of life in Memphis and Shelby County. Decreasing crime and violence was one of the key goals of that plan. From that initial groundwork, Memphis and Shelby County have taken a multi-pronged and overlapping approach to addressing violence within their community including preventing youth violence, reducing crime, and minimizing the effects of children’s and youths’ exposure to violence. Three initiatives that resulted from this collaboration are Operation: Safe Community, the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan, and the Defending Childhood Initiative.
Established in 2005, Operation: Safe Community is a collaborative five-year strategic initiative (2006-2011) focused on reducing crime and increasing public safety. The strategic plan is based on 15 research-based strategies and is coordinated by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission (Crime Commission), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization focused on bringing agencies together to focus on crime prevention using innovative methods. A second phase of Operation: Safe Community is in development. This plan will go into effect in January 2012 and span from 2012-2016.
The Crime Commission was selected by the City of Memphis to develop and support the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan (PDF, 149 pages). The Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan is an extension of the work done through Operation: Safe Community and makes up part of Phase II of Operation: Safe Community – 2012-2016. The leadership involved in Operation: Safe Community recognized that, despite declines in crime in Memphis and Shelby County, data continued to show that a high proportion of violent crimes were being perpetuated by young people and that young people in Memphis and Shelby County continued to face multiple risk factors associated with youth violence. The Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan, finalized in April 2011, is focused on preventing youth violence, intervening with youth at high risk for offending, implementing enforcement strategies, and assisting youth returning from incarceration. The plan is also supported by technical assistance from the National Forum on Youth Violence and experts within multiple federal agencies, including the Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing, and Labor. Learn more about the National Forum on Youth Violence and other communities that have developed youth violence prevention plans.
DCI, funded by the Department of Justice, is a site-based initiative focused on addressing children’s exposure to violence as victims and witnesses. The goals of the initiative are to prevent exposure to violence, alleviate the negative impacts of exposure when it does occur, and develop knowledge and spread awareness about this issue. In Memphis and Shelby County, DCI is coordinated by the Shelby County Office for Early Childhood and Youth.
The initial phase of Operation: Safe Community provided a strong foundation for the work being done through the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan and DCI. The Crime Commission and the Shelby County Office for Early Childhood and Youth work closely to ensure coordination and minimize any duplication of effort among the three initiatives. Both the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan and the DCI will be incorporated into the second phase of the Operation: Safe Community plan, allowing for continued coordination and collaboration around these initiatives.