Memphis launched its Group Violence Intervention Program (GVIP) in an effort to reduce violent crimes – namely, gun violence. Officials described it as a “proactive, holistic plan” that adopted models that had purportedly been successful in other cities, though it didn’t specify which ones.
According to the plan, the GVIP will have a czar overseeing three separate branches: a “focused deterrence” coordinator that works with organizations such as the police and social service agencies; a data, policy, community action coordinator that arranges volunteers for various community events; and an intervention coordinator that oversees the outreach workers and violence interrupters.
At present, those involved in the effort beyond the mayor’s office include Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, and a variety of members from the community’s health sector and nonprofits.
In a press release, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland claimed that GVIP would interrupt “the cycle of violent crime” more effectively than previous approaches undertaken by law enforcement and officials.
“At its core, it is a collaboration between innovative policing and focused deterrence work. It will be complemented by other non-police agencies who will perform intense violence interruption, intervention, prevention, and outreach to the hundreds of individuals we know who are committing most of the crimes and the most at-risk youth,” stated Strickland. “This is a targeted, more comprehensive approach directed at those committing the violent and other more serious crimes.”
At the end of last year, Memphis experienced a record number of homicides – over 330 for all of 2020 compared to just under 200 homicides in 2019, part of a significant upward trend over the past three years.
The Tennessee Star inquired with the mayor’s office about the progress for implementing GVIP and the protections in place for community members caught in potentially dangerous situations, such as the violence interrupters. Spokespersons with the mayor’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
– – –