The Chattanooga Police Department has a new strategy to combat gun violence in the city.
Over the past four years, 51 percent of homicides in Chattanooga and 56 percent of non-fatal shootings involved gang members as the victim or the suspect, the CPD says. In addition, less than one percent of the city’s population is involved in gang activity, Police Chief Fred Fletcher says.
“That 1 percent threatens the well-being of our citizens. That 1 percent endangers lives. That 1 percent terrorizes neighborhoods,” Fletcher says.
The Chattanooga Police Department and law enforcement partners such as the FBI, the ATF, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office and others are working together on a multi-layered approach to fight violent crime.
As of January, CPD has added the technology of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, a new ballistic technology managed by the ATF. This technology allows the department to share information that has proven effective in addressing gun and gang violence.
Much of the credit for bringing this program online in Chattanooga goes to a CPD undercover officer who originally brought the program to Fletcher’s attention.
Sgt. Josh May, focused deterrence coordinator, suggested the formation of a gun team, gang unit and rapid response teams.
The gun team will consists of four officers and one sergeant. This team will be vital in getting the most value from the information provided by NIBIN.
The Chattanooga Gang Unit will be responsible for investigating crimes committed by gang members. The CGU will also follow up on NIBIN leads that involve gang members and examine locations where shots have been fired due to gang activity.
The rapid response teams will require the addition of nine officers. These officers will be split across the three sectors of the city and combined with other existing officers in those sectors.
Each sector will have seven officers dedicated to quick response during peak crime hours. The unit will work in conjunction with the CPD’s recently created intelligence unit, patrol commanders, the crime analysis unit and partner agencies to respond to various situations quickly.
Funds for the additional officers are requested in the City of Chattanooga fiscal year 2017-2018 Police Department budget. As part of the city budget process, City Council must approve the funding prior to the addition of the new positions.