City Council approves funding for new gang assessment - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

City Council approves funding for new gang assessment

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) --  The Chattanooga City Council voted to approve Mayor Ron Littlefield's $75,000 gang assessment Tuesday evening. After lengthy debate, the measure passed 7-2, with council members Andrae McGary and Deborah Scott voting against.

"This is an actual blue print of what we're going to use the data for," says Gang Task Force Coordinator Boyd Patterson. As far as the hefty price tag goes, "that's just what it costs to do this depth of research," Patterson says. 

However, unlike studies done in the past Patterson says this new assessment will focus on sustainability. "That is a commitment from the agencies that have some type of impact on at risk youth to understand, to acknowledge that they're not going to be able to just write a check and be done with it," says Patterson.  

Patterson says those most affected by gang violence , like at-risk youth, will likely be some of the first to participate in this new assessment. "They're the ones who are going to be involved in the collection of the data," Patterson says.  

The Marsh brothers have lived in the East Lake community for a couple years. "You can't go out and walk the streets at night time without getting shot at by somebody," says Johnny Marsh.  

They say boys are getting recruited into gangs at a much younger age than most think. "These days about 12, 13," says Bronson Marsh.

To them, a gang assessment is a good first step, but more needs to be done. "That might work," says Bronson.

Former Police Captain Jeff Francis created the city's first gang task force nearly 20 years ago. He wouldn't speak specifically about 2012, but said the city has already studied the problem.

In fact, those studies helped secure federal money through the Weed and Seed program. However, late last year those dollars ran out and the city did not choose to fund the program on its own.

Now that the council has approved the latest assessment, Patterson said work can begin as early as this week and could take six to nine months to finish.

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