Memphis is trying something new to deal with street gangs and daily shootings.
That city now has what’s called “community Safety Zones”….and local authorities are looking to do the same thing here.
City and county officers met at the District Attorney General’s office this afternoon to talk about how it would work.
NEAL PINKSTON, HAM. CO. DISTRICT ATTORNEY GENERAL “One of those we’ve explored is what we call a nuisance abatement…or a gang injunction where we would ask a court to declare a certain geographic area of the city to be a safe zone…and validated gang members would be prohibited from certain activities in that geographic area.”
Included in those activities would be things like flashing gang signs, recruiting, or associating with other gang members.
Police, the sheriff’s department and the Chattanooga Housing authority are all on board.
SHERIFF JIM HAMMOND, HAMILTON COUNTY “We will be the ones who, from a legal standpoint will be responsible for serving the legal work. Fortunately some of this may be cut down by serving members who are already in jail, where its easy to serve them.”
But enforcement must be done by the rules.
EDWIN MCPHERSON, CPD, ASSISTANT CHIEF “There’s a criteria put in place that we have to follow and once the officers fill that form in, it’s reviewed by the supervisor before that person is added to the list.”
Violators of the injunction will face misdemeanor charges.
But, the agencies hope it will give local residents hope.
CHIEF FELIX VESS, CHA POLICE DEPARTMENT “Some of these residents some nights might have to sleep on the floor, sleep in their bathroom just to feel safe …because some of these gang members ..the violent gang members are shooting innocent people.”
Named specifically as a trouble area is 4th avenue around East Lake courts. That’s the site of numerous shootings and gang related deaths over the years.
The District Attorney did not set a specific date for beginning the “Safety Zone” program.