MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Memphis Police Department is now targeting who they believe is contributing to the growing crime numbers in the city.

MPD’s Multi-Agency Gang unit believes gang activity is a contributing factor for the alarming increase in crime over the last two years.

Lieutenant Andre Pruit, with the Multi-Agency Gang unit said gangs will begin to grow and there will be more crime if they don’t take action.

“We have more hybrid gangs in Memphis. We don’t have traditional leaders like national gangs,” Pruitt said.

That trickles down and has a domino effect in our community, especially among our youth.

““The juveniles are driving most of the crime in Memphis between the ages of 14-17. The older individuals are putting them out here to do the crime because the punishment level is not high enough for the juveniles,” Pruitt said.

Officers with the Multi-Agency Gang unit are using crime data from the FBI to identify and focus on hotspots for aggravated assaults and other crime.

“We are beefing up our efforts to put more officers in those areas. So, over the next couple of weeks, you’ll see more officers, more gang response officers in those areas,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt explained that although they are hoping to combat crime, they are also relying on other methods to prevent juveniles from committing a crime in the first place.

“Within the city we need more football fields for them, more basketball fields for them and we need these outlets to be free for these juveniles. They got to have positive outlets,” Pruitt said.