Enhanced police security in Coolidge Park will continue next weekend
CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WRCB) -- North Shore business owners say whatever police have to do to restore peace is worth the price. The Chattanooga Police Department enhanced security over the weekend on the North Shore, and in downtown.
It's a situation that's been escalating for well over a year. In the spring of 2010 and 2011 there were multiple shootings in Coolidge Park. Five people were wounded in one of them.
In March of this year, city leaders imposed a 6 p.m. teen curfew. This month, there have been reports of large groups congregating on the Walnut Street Bridge, even reports of shots fired.
Downtown business owners reported teens jumping into traffic, and disturbing patrons. Over the weekend, Police Chief Bobby Dodd ordered his patrol officers to line the streets.
The weekend went off without a hitch, and now Chief Dodd says he'll do it again next weekend.
"People were walking around enjoying the park the way it should be enjoyed," says business owner Bruce Weiss.
Weiss and the River Street Deli have been a part of the North Shore for 13 years. In that time Weiss has seen many different things happen at the park.
"I noticed police presence," he says of the weekend.
Weiss witnessed a peaceful park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. This is a far cry from the gun shots, crowds and fights that have made headlines in the past year.
"Several police cars and officers walking around," says Scott Smith, Manager at Julie Darling Donuts. "I've never seen that kind of police presence before."
Smith works on the other side of Frazier Avenue, and has a direct view of Walnut Street Bridge.
"The police said they were going to patrol the area and they kept their word," Smith says.
Chief Dodd says 34 officers patrolled the bridge, park and North Shore in groups. Dodd says the large influx of teenagers in the downtown area two weeks ago is what prompted his decision to enhance security.
"We have to be fluid," Dodd says. "Whatever the strategy criminals or the crowds are going to create, we have to adjust to it."
The added police presence made for just one arrest the entire weekend. Dodd says officers were also looking for parents intending to leave their children at the park unsupervised.
"If it's an adult dropping off kids, or we find kids that don't have supervision and an adult comes to pick them up they will be cited," Dodd says.
Of the 76 citations written over the weekend none were for breaking curfew. Dodd says the operation was a success and will continue. For North Shore business owners that's a very good thing.
"It's just encouraging," says Smith. "I hope they keep it up every weekend."
The added security costs taxpayers 100 hours of overtime for those officers. That's roughly $2,700-$3,200, but Dodd says that's cheaper than the overtime expended on major crimes cases.
Chief Dodd says there's no time frame for the enhanced patrols, but they will continue next weekend.