When District Attorney Amy Weirich comes into a room, you have the feeling that she is a lady in charge, who knows what she’s doing and is as capable as they come.
That was the impression the members of the Midtown Republican Club got when she spoke to us at last night’s meeting.
Weirich immediately told us that we were to ask her anything and to let her know “what’s been bugging you.” For an elected official, it’s a refreshing approach. That no one immediately spoke up reflects that since she’s been in charge in Shelby County, things here are improving.
Evidently, even the feds agree. A task force sent to check out and swoop down on court last week found that “there are 50% fewer juveniles in custody than there were a year ago. We are noticing fewer people at the Penal Farm and getting fewer people in 201 Poplar,” she said. “Something we’re doing is working; some of our collaborations are working.”
Weirich touched on one of them, the mutli agency gang effort. “We got gang injunctions for the first time ever in Shelby County and the ability to declare them a nuisance. It won’t make everything well, but it gave the community great peace,” she said of the recent effort that helped 4,000 residents of Riverside in South Memphis threatened by gangs.
“Now the real work begins. We will work with Police Director Toney Armstrong and with federal, state and local officials. Mayor Wharton gave us an attorney. He had said he’d give us the power to get this took used in Shelby County and see if it works. It will send a message that we are ganging up against gangs.”
Commenting that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, D.A. Weirich asked us if we knew what the number one crime by juveniles in Shelby County is. It is domestic violence. “Often it’s a son beating up on a mom or a daughter beating up on a mom and we’ve seen an increase in domestic violence in juvenile dating. Tomorrow (former Shelby County D.A.) Bill Gibbons will be here at the Family Safety Center. We are blessed to have a Family Safety Center here,” she said, praising Gibbons’ work as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and involvement in the Family Safety Center.
Another youth crime Weirich discussed is truancy. “Do you know what age the biggest population of truants is? Five and six years old,” she said. “It has gotten the attention of Gov. Haslam. We are working on truancy reduction. One way is to match the truant with a mentor. We always have more kids than mentors.” Weirich said her office also sends out 5 notices to parents and that a letter from the D.A. usually gets their attention and stops the problem.
Also, “we started a program in which kids with perfect school attendance for a year get a free bike.” This comes from the Hyde Foundation and not taxpayer money, she noted.
Another disturbing trend Weirich touched on is prescription pill abuse. “It’s the number one killer of kids in Tennessee. We need tougher legislation, tougher penalties. There is a huge increase in fake licenses,” she said, adding that prescription only sales of pseudoephedrine, the main component of meth, would drop Tennessee’s ranking as one of the top three meth producing states in the country.
Ms. Weirich was then off to yet another meeting in Bartlett to speak on domestic violence.
After a long day at work and now pressing on 7 p.m., Ms. Weirich is a dedicated servant. She will be running for reelection next August and we can only hope she will easily win her office. It’s something she’d like to do for a long time.
“My youngest is 7 and I hope someday I will still be D.A. and can see her sworn into public office.”