Dear Memphis: We Must Come Together and Fight Crime, Not Each Other

We are experiencing increased incidents of crime nationwide and Memphis is not different. 

The same story plays out day after day; aggravated assaults, robberies, thefts, shootings are all in a day’s work. 

Though considered non violent, the high incidents of property crime are just as unsettling. 

Can you imagine getting ready for work in the morning, you walk out of your apartment to find your car in the parking lot “ on bricks” because all four of your tires have been stolen? 

Can you imagine working long nights at a warehouse to walk out of work and find your car window broken? There was nothing inside to steal. Yet your window is still broken because well, they just had to check. 

I’ve heard one of my co-workers lament” At this point, I’m just going to leave my doors unlocked so my windows don’t get broken.” 

We have seen the news stories of tree trimmers, postal workers and  delivery drivers being robbed,  sometimes violently while working. Yes, it’s becoming a challenge to work in peace. 

While we have a small segment of our population wreaking havoc across the city, the                   “stand up”  citizens argue with each other about what to do and who’s to blame. 

“What is the mayor doing?”  

“How is the new police chief working out?”

“We have to reduce poverty.” 

“Our public school system is in shambles.” 

Why is it that we blame everyone and everything except for the people perpetrating the crimes? 

When I watch law abiding, tax paying, family and community focused citizens arguing with each other online blaming politicians, the schools, the churches and the police; I can’t help but reflect that while they are fighting each other —- the criminals of Memphis would have no regard for either of them. 

I agree that it is a revolving door at 201 Poplar. While we want violent offenders to be rehabilitated and introduced back into society to be constructive, we have to agree that until they are rehabilitated they need to be separated.  

We need to separate them from those of us who just want to leave the house to go to work, church, school, out for a night on the town and return home safely. 

Take the teenager who was killed at Kroger during an attempted carjacking. An example that a regular citizen can just engage in the routine action of “pumping gas” can turn into a life or death situation. 

This teenager had a criminal past and had previously been in custody. Had he not been released, he wouldn’t be mixed in with the general population to commit more crimes. 

There is a group that is interested in how juveniles are treated in the justice system. And I agree there is a place for that. Science confirms that the brain doesn’t completely develop until we are in our mid 20’s, so in adolescence decision making can be shaky and understandably not the best. 

However now we know that all of those that were in favor of his release were not in fact fighting for his best interest.  Had he still been in custody, the life saved would have been his own

Listen up. We have to be on guard against crime.  Let’s stop fighting each other. The only thing for certain we can do as citizens to reduce the crime rate is not be criminals ourselves. 

Stop using poverty as an excuse. We all know people who do not have much materially but still do not engage in criminal behavior.  We as a city and nation do indeed struggle with poverty. But not poverty in a money sense,  many are poor in morals and poor in hope. 

As a Christian, I pray for our city and wish the best for all of our leaders. I also pray for those that are perpetrating crimes. As much as we debate and hold crime prevention and economic summits, job fairs and expungement clinics, by now we should know none of these things will save us. 

Only Jesus will. If a person  accepts Jesus and is truly saved, life transformation is inevitable. 

We’d be good if our city “looked like” the amount of churches we have. But even some churches participate in the blame game. 

Let’s come together and agree to hold those who commit crimes accountable. That doesn’t mean we don’t give them grace and provide resources of rehabilitation. That doesn’t mean that we don’t work to improve the school system and reduce the poverty rates.  While working towards those feats, we can still hold people accountable. 

While we are fighting each other, none of them mean us well. They will break into our homes, steal (and crash) our cars, take our money and they will take our life.  All these things we work for, they will take with no hesitation. 

The holiday season is upon us. Watch your surroundings while  you are out and about.  Don’t take for granted the increased police presence in the shopping plazas. Thank the police officers who are on duty in the malls and the parking lots trying to make sure your shopping trips are uneventful.   Remember, they spend time away from their family to increase the chance you return home safely to yours.   

I wish the best for Memphis and all of us who call this place home. Be safe out there.

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