A new partnership between Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's innovation team and The MED is attempting to cut down on repeat gun violence.
The program, part of the Memphis Gun Down Initiative, will begin treating more than the gunshot wounds of victims in the hospital. This new program intervenes while the gang members or young gunshot victims are in the hospital, specifically to stop retaliation and to change the gunshot victim's way of thinking.
"You are always concerned, but when it's a child, when it's a 14- or 15-year-old snuffed out just right in the dawn of life, it's horrible," Mayor Wharton said. "All that potential wasted."
Under the new intervention, young gunshot victims will be counseled while in the hospital. The thinking is, that is the perfect time to approach them.
"This is a time in which they are strapped to the gurney and they are going to listen," the mayor said. "We think this is why we are choosing a time in which there is blood all over the place. Who is in charge? When they are out on the streets they are in charge. When they are in the hospital, the doctors are in charge, and so at that time we kind of have a captive audience."
The idea is to heal more than just the gunshot wound before sending the victim back out on the street.
"Well, first of all if, we just manage to get them to chill for a minute, just listen, and they will be hooked up with the BLOC Squad," Mayor Wharton said. "These are men from the streets who can tell them that there is no good end to retaliating, how they will end up dead themselves or behind bars. Men with real street experience. The others will tell them if you have a beef with this guy, learn how to work it out."
Mayor Wharton says the program has worked in other cities around the United States and there is hope that it will work in Memphis.