New Shelby County program to protect witnesses to crime

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announced a new program to protect witnesses to crimes on Monday.  

Justice officials and community leaders announced a program called WRAP, or the Witness Relocation and Assistance Program, on Monday.

It was developed in collaboration with faith leaders, like Dr. Bill Adkins of the Greater Imani Church, who said witnesses would be more likely to testify if they were relocated during a trial, out of reach of those who might try to intimidate them into silence. 

“We believe that the number of heinous crimes will decrease once perpetrators realize that there are citizens ready to testify against them,” Adkins said.

According to Memphis police about 40-percent of this year’s 137 homicides are currently unsolved.

“Right off the bat I would think a large percentage of our unsolved homicides would fall into that mix of somebody knows something. Somebody saw something  and they’re either unwilling, unable to pick up the phone and share that information,” said Amy Weirich, the Shelby County District Attorney General.

901-WRAP is modeled after a similar program in California. It will broaden similar victim services that are currently offered by the DA’s office.

“Not only are we going to relocate them, but we’re going to give them a jumpstart in life from a community that they’re leaving to a better community to live,” Adkins said.

It is an additional tool our law enforcement leaders hope will make our communities safer.

“Our officers do a lot of work to try and solve cases, but this a great opportunity for individuals to feel safe during the adjudication process, said” Memphis Police Director CJ Davis. “But it will start with people doing their part speaking up if they see something and continuing that commitment until justice is served.”

Weirich added, “Much of this has to be dependent on the victims and witnesses and their families taking advantage of it but also cooperating with the essence of the program.”

Pastor Adkins with Greater Imani Church donated $10,000 to kick off the program. They’re now asking for other churches, businesses and residents to do the same.

You can donate online or send checks to the Memphis Shelby Crime commission.

This program has been in development for months, and details are still being ironed out. 

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