Lt. Tyrone Currie of the Memphis Police Community Outreach Program said more community centers, more activities and police efforts to develop more positive relationships with youth all are underway.
“Our goal is not to lock you up,” Lt. Currie said. “We want to un-lock you through deeds and actions. We are all surrogate parents for you.”
And those standardized test scores that are a constant in students’ lives now, that will not always be the measure to success, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich told the youthful audience members.
“There will come a time in your lives when these numbers don’t matter,” Gen. Weirich said. “What will matter is what is in your heart and your work ethic. Find something you are passionate about and zero in on that.”
The forum at Union Grove Baptist Church on Frayser Boulevard was the third of four sponsored by the city’s Office of Youth Services to give youngsters between 14 and 21 an opportunity to express their concerns about crime, jobs, school and other issues.
Panelists also included Shelby County School Board members Stephanie Love and Teresa jones, Memphis Youth Coalition President Barry Jackson, 901 B.L.O.C. Squad Supervisor Delvin Lane, Memphis Youth City Council Taelen Boyd and Regional One Health representative Angela Hughes.
“This is a forum for young people,” Mayor Jim Strickland told the students. “We are here to help, we are here to listen and we are here to guide.”
Gen. Weirich said families, not gangs, should be the source students turn to for love and support. She also urged students concerned about crime to become part of the solution by helping police do their jobs.
“If you see something, say something,” she said, “because if you don’t, you give criminals more confidence that they can get away with something.”
Union Grove Pastor Charlie Caswell, who also was on the panel, said he recently found a 15-year-old boy rummaging through his car on the church parking lot. He chased and help catch the youngster, who had recently been expelled from high school.
The pastor said he hopes to get the young man on diversion to remove his criminal offense and then get him into some programs that will give him an opportunity to turn his life around.
“Memphis is a great city, but we want to make it even better,” Pastor Caswell said. “You can make a difference.”