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Chattanooga city council approves another gang study

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August 2, 1996 article from The Chattanooga Times August 2, 1996 article from The Chattanooga Times

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – Tuesday night, the Chattanooga City Council voted for a lengthy and costly study on the city's gang problems.

The measure was approved by seven of the nine council members. The assessment will cost $75,000 and it's not the first the city has done.

So, will this one tell us anything we don't already know?

The call for a gang study was sparked on Christmas morning, when nine people were shot outside Club Fathom.

So far this year, Chattanooga Police have worked 12 shootings, four of them fatal.

Police say many shootings are gang-related, and everyone from church and community leaders to teachers and neighbors say the violence must stop.   

But will Mayor Littlefield's gang study be the difference, or will history repeat itself?

"This is a hoop we gotta go through, so let's jump through the hoop," says District 9 Councilman, Peter Murphy.

Mayor Littlefield made the $75,000 request two months ago, which was denied.

But now, phase one of his new gang crime crackdown will move ahead with an assessment.

"Just want to make sure our constituents know that this is not the $75,000 we had set aside for minority business," District 5 Councilman Russell Gilbert says. "This is something different."

But will the study be something different and offer different results?

Chattanooga has suffered from gang violence for years. Newspaper headlines from the mid to late 90s show there was a known problem.

This new initiative, it's said, will draw its plan from the assessment to be conducted by the Ochs Center of Metropolitan Studies.

"It's hard to know what to do about a problem if everyone's kind of determined they're gonna do their own thing," explains District 8 Councilman Andrae McGary, who voted against the proposal. "It's far easier when you identify where we're doing something and where the gaps are. And I think this study is designed to do both of those things."

And the cost is more than $69,000 with around $5,000 reserved for contingencies.
"It's easier to, you know, to help kids who need guidance then fix broken men," anti-gang coordinator, Boyd Patterson says. "So, the earlier we can get them, you know, we're gonna pay for it one way or another."

Plus, there's the bureaucracy involved with any government run program that could work against us if things aren't done just right.

"If we don't do it, there's a whole lot of funding that won't be available to us to address the problem," says Councilman Murphy.

Studies like this one helped secure federal funding for Weed and Seed Program over the last 20 years.

As we mentioned, McGary and Councilwoman Deborah Scott voted against the $75,000 assessment. She was skeptical of the price-tag.

It's expected to be complete by August.

Also, the council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to urge state legislators to enact a hype-violent gang statute, which would allow authorities to imprison the worst offenders for longer periods of time.


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