Chattanooga makes top 20 in crime report
Story by Antwan Harris
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Chattanooga ranked 11th in the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies crime ranking.
Officials say the increase is due to a rise in robberies and burglaries.
The ranking pushed Chattanooga's crime rate higher than Detroit and Atlanta, cities considered to be two of the most dangerous in America.
Monday, Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd spoke with Eyewitness News about the city's problem areas.
In the Avondale neighborhood, neighbors say crime is all too common and safety is a growing concern. It's one of the top 10 areas for violent crimes in the city, and the police chief says he is looking for ways to help.
"Sure we have a crime problem, but you have to put in categories. Violent crime is not a problem," says Chief Bobby Dodd.
Chief Bobby Dodd says crime isn't going away in Chattanooga, but says his department is headed in the right direction to fight back against the problem.
That includes more officers.
"We have doubled our crime suppression unit. The county gave us five officers to help us out," says Dodd.
In a report released from the Ochs Center Monday, Chattanooga ranks in the top 20 cities for crime rates in the country.
The study shows St. Louis is number one in the country with more than 10,000 crimes per 100,000 people.
Memphis is ranked fifth.
Both Chattanooga and Knoxville are ranked above Atlanta, Georgia.
Dodd says he's still not convinced on the numbers.
"I have seen situations where agencies and cities can manipulate numbers and they will under report numbers or their methods are different from our methods," says Dodd.
Chief Dodd says Chattanooga police data shows crime is down nearly six percent in the city, but according to the Ochs study, overall crime in Chattanooga is down 1.7 percent, while the metro area has seen a near five percent increase.
For many areas in the city, Dodd says police presence isn't enough, and community organizations are paving the way to combat crime.
Jerry Woods works with Hope for the Inner City and is a Harriet Tubman Home resident.
Statistically, crimes such as burglary and robbery have increased here.
Wood says the center is looking for community input to help keep residents safe.
"All lives can change and all communities can transform. You just have to work together on that focus," says Jerry Woods.
According to the survey, vandalism and property destruction ranked amongst the top crimes in the city, even though the numbers are down significantly.
Meanwhile, the number of robberies and burglaries have risen. Those numbers are up 18 to 30 percent. The police chief says much of that can be contributed to the down economy.
In a regional report, East Ridge ranked second in the crime rate report, right behind Chattanooga.
The Ochs Center study showed a decrease in vehicle thefts and burglaries, but showed a rise in aggravated assaults.
Other high crime areas in our region include, Kimball, Tennessee, and Ringgold and Rossville, Georgia.