MEMPHIS, Tenn. — 2016 was a year of many flashing lights.
“Gangs, guns and drugs; that’s been the same for a long period of time,” said Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings.
Out of the 228 homicides in the city last year, a third of them had victims involved in gangs.
“Someone asked me not too long ago, ‘Can you eradicate gangs?’ And I said, ‘Yes you can, just like you can eradicate the horse and the buggie,'” said Colonel James Kirkwood.
Colonel Kirkwood says it’s about addressing the reason people join gangs.
“What gangs give them is big brothers,” he said. “They give them someone to talk to them and give them training and tell them what to do.”
He said MPD is working to find ways to also appeal to them on a more positive level.
“We have to create avenues where they can come and be surrounded by us, and then we have to pour into those young men. We have to be fathers and big brothers and uncles. That’s how you replace gangs. You give them what gangs give them.”
That’s why he says they’re bringing a sports league to some of the low income neighborhoods and looking at a midnight basketball league for adult men.
“Let us all come together,” he said. “Let us work to make things better.”
He’s asking the community to step up and volunteer to become someone’s mentor.
It’s a decision that could change a young person’s life, and potentially yours.