Gang Task Force members seek help from local leaders - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Gang Task Force members seek help from local leaders

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB)- Chattanooga Gang Task Force members say they are making progress on the organized effort to stop current gang activity.

They are taking their message to everyone in the community, not just those who are more directly impacted.

Boyd Patterson and Fred Houser took the time to speak to the Rotary Club, updating them on the progress of the gang task force.

They tailored their message to include the civic and business leaders on how they too can help with the effort.

Boyd Patterson and Fred Houser are making a point to include the business and civic leaders of Chattanooga in the fight against the city's gang problem.

"It's nothing they're going to write one check for and that's it," says Patterson.

Both men hammered the point home about getting involved in outreach efforts, saying again how important it is to stop gang activity before it starts.

"That's reaching out to the second grade. That's reaching out to elementary schools, trying to help kids find something special about themselves," says Patterson.

"It's time for Chattanooga to invest in its youth culture," says Houser.

He goes on to say, "In this forum today, represents the best of the best that Chattanooga has to offer."

Both Houser and Patterson say compared to other cities and national models, Chattanooga is ahead of those timelines on organizing an anti-gang effort.

They are also attacking the problem on the suppression side, working on legislation with the RICO Act, making known gang crime a federal offense.

In the meantime, they are appealing to the resources area businesses have to offer.

"We don't have an excuse not to have a ready labor force. And you can help this city turn that around," says Houser.

"Every segment of the community. Every segment of the community has something they can do," says Patterson.

They are encouraging business and civic leaders to create programs tailored to advising at-risk youth.

Patterson says the business community has resources that others do not.

"Just the folks in this room today can have an incredible impact on the jobs, on the economic reasons that cause kids to go to gangs in the first place," says Patterson.

Patterson and Houser say they are also in the process of creating a steering committee made up of those in education, business and law enforcement to start an open dialogue on putting words into action.

He says they will make an announcement about the newly formed committee in the near future.

Count on us to keep you informed.

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