Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Poplar Plaza Security Measures Revealed During Community Meeting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 4:24 PM

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A couple of weeks after teenagers involved in a flash mob beat three people in the Poplar Plaza Kroger parking lot, residents of the High Point Terrace neighborhood are still worried about being victimized when they travel to the grocery store.

Many of those concerned residents gathered in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s Fellowship Hall during the High Point Terrace Neighborhood Watch and Association’s meeting Wednesday night.

The event brought together more than 150 people: area residents, elected officials, Memphis city councilmen, Shelby County commissioners, employees from both the Poplar Plaza Kroger and CiCi’s Pizza (where the teens met up before the Kroger parking lot situation), and representatives from Shelby County Juvenile Court, law enforcement, and civic organizations.

Locals submitted questions about crime in the area — primarily the Kroger incident and what’s being done to make sure a similar occurrence doesn’t take place in the future.

“I want to know what protection they’re going to have in the parking lot to control this,” said one long-time High Point resident. “My way of thinking is, the kids should not be there in a group anymore. They should be monitored. I just want to see that it doesn’t happen again. There needs to be more parental control. And there has to be some justification for your actions.”

Various members of law enforcement commented on the Kroger issue and disclosed how they’re working to better assure the safety of all community residents.

Tillman Precinct Commander Colonel Terry Landrum informed the crowd that a new surveillance camera had been installed at the Poplar Plaza Kroger. Landrum said that he’s diverted some of Tillman Precinct’s bike patrol to the Poplar area and has also increased the number of police cruisers patrolling the area.

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Landrum also revealed that Finard Properties, the company that owns the Poplar Plaza property, had increased security there, and Kroger is considering hiring uniformed patrol officers.

“Poplar Plaza was a terrible incident to occur. There was no real warning that it was going to happen,” Landrum said. “It’s regrettable. It’s something that we don’t expect to happen again. I cannot promise you that it won’t happen again. It can happen anywhere. Since this incident, we’ve taken every step that we should’ve taken to make sure this does not happen again.”

Other people who spoke during the meeting included Memphis Police Department Deputy Chief Clete Knight, Deputy District Attorney General Jennifer Nichols, Shelby County Juvenile Court Detention Center Administrator Gary Cummings, Rick Smith of Finard Properties, Memphis City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert, and Shelby County Commission Chairman Justin Ford.

Each person shared ideas on what can be done to make sure no one else is victimized in Poplar Plaza and throughout the community. Many of the ideas involved mentoring to at-risk youth and having more churches and schools open up their gyms for teens to utilize outside of school hours.

“Have you seen a great spike of churches opening up at night to offer their gyms? Have you seen Shelby County Schools open up their gyms to offer the kids something to do?” inquired Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley. “Unfortunately, the answer is no. Instead of waiting another year for us to do nothing, you’ve got to hold people like me, and the city council, accountable. Six months from now, you need to hold another one of these [meetings] to say, ‘What schools do we have open at night? What churches are open at night? And how many people in this room are mentoring a child?’ I would just encourage you, if anything, [to do that], or [crime] will be a bullet away from your family.”

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