Chief Deputy: Explosive could eliminate ability to respond - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chief Deputy: Explosive could eliminate ability to respond

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Story by Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Wherever you go, parking close by is Job One.

Dennis Young came to Downtown Chattanooga from Kingston, to visit family Thursday.

"It was easy this afternoon,"he says. "We pulled right on the street. But I'm not so sure it'd be this easy on a business day."

Downtown worker Cara Brown concurs.

"If you're in the thick of things then it's difficult to find something that's cheap," she says.

Parking could be even more of a premium when Chattanooga's new 'take home car' policy takes effect. More than 260 police officers have opted to park their squad cars 'in sector' or at the Services Center, rather than pay 20 to 30 cents for every mile's distance between their homes and work sites.

"I'm not sure if there was no plan beforehand, or they didn't expect the result when they gave us this choice," says Sgt. Craig Joel, President of the Chattanooga chapter of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA).

"Those 262 (take-home) cars need a home, as well as the arriving shifts of officers. The Service Center has only about 200 spaces."

Sgt. Joel maintains that CPD will need to find at least 400 spaces to accommodate the personal car that officers use for commuting, and the Department vehicles assigned to officers not 'on-shift.' 

Wednesday, Police Chief Bobby Dodd emailed sworn officers, advising them to keep driving their cars to and from work,  "until adequate, secured parking is established."

Many officers, and others with ties to law enforcement, maintain that 'secure' is the operative word.

Former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble put his concerns in writing, to the website

"Most police cruisers would at times, have to be parked in a centralized location," Gobble's letter relates.

"A simple explosive device or a tornado could easily eliminate law enforcement's ability to respond to emergencies and would offer looters and other criminal types free rein to engage in criminal activity."

Sgt. Joel says that security measures at the Service Center and 911 Center would prove inadequate.

"A video camera records what was done. it doesn't do us any good as far as pulling off the next shift, " he says.

Brown is concerned that her neighbor no longer will keep his patrol car in his driveway

"I think it keeps crime down in the neighborhood," she says.

"If there are any issues associated with a take-home car policy, then we can tweak that, at that point," Chattanooga Mayor's spokesman Richard Beeland told Eyewitness News Tuesday.

"But to completely bash it at the beginning is not quite fair."

The PBA plans to speak to Chattanooga City Council at its next meeting January 4.

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