Could Newark Plan Work in Chattanooga?
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WRCB-TV) - Could a solution to Chattanooga's gang violence problem come from a partnership between police and the clergy? It has worked in Newark, New Jersey.
Thursday night, Chattanooga City Councilman Andrae McGary hosted a conference at Tennessee Temple University with the directors of the program who offered suggestions and advice.
Newark has roughly double the population and police force of Chattanooga. Since the inception of their Clergy Affairs Unit, they say crime has dropped some 40%.
Sgt. Leslie Jones and the Reverend Stephen Davis say the same "ministry of presence" could work in Chattanooga. "With the right process in place, the right strategies and co-operation," explained Sgt. Jones. "And the more co-operation that you have between everyone involved, it don't have to take an eternity to do it. We were able to do it in a couple of years or less."
"We reach them by just being an instrument of healing and reconciliation, Rev. Davis added. "Not preaching to them, but letting them know that we're here because we care about them. We care about their living condition, we care about their situation that they're facing and we just show them complete care. And whenever we've done that, they've always responded in a tremendous way."
Councilman McGary said his next step is to set up a steering committee for those interested in moving forward with these ideas.