CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WRCB) -- Chattanooga law enforcement leaders and those in the justice system say there is a growing perception that crime is getting worse in the Scenic City, but will be the first to argue, that is not true.
The Rotary Club hosted a panel about crime Thursday.
Both Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd and District Attorney General Bill Cox were a part of the panel. They say overall, crime is on the decline. But both say the source of the crime is mainly gang activity and efforts to stop it must continue.
"I'm not sure if there's that much more crime going on, or we just have more people that are tuned in and report it to police," says Chief Dodd.
Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd called upon business and community leaders to reassure the public, the city is heading in the right direction on fighting crime.
He says despite the gang task force assessment revealing there are around 1,300 gang members in Chattanooga, he says only 25 to 50 members are directly causing the violence.
"It's just a revolving door. The same people get arrested, the people, the victims will not prosecute in the case," says Dodd.
Dodd says thankfully, Chattanooga does not have a high rate of 'random violence.' He says the majority of crime is gang on gang activity.
He also says the department devotes about 80 percent of its resources to the same problem areas.
"We do have a lot of calls for service in sector 2, which is the Highland Park, East Lake, down the Rossville Boulevard line. We do spend a great deal of our resources in that area."
Dodd says police are doing their part and that change will have to come from the community.
"The neighborhoods are the ones that need to get fed up with it. The neighborhoods need to get involved. The families need to get involved. That's the reason we're working with the gang task force and get all the resources that are available to the same table," says Dodd.
District Attorney General Bill Cox agrees.
He says while the legal system works to throw down maximum penalties and keep criminals off the street, it is hard to put people in jail when witnesses stay quiet.
"We need to work together in order to fight crime. It can't be just the police department, it can't just be prosecutors. The entire community has to take part in protecting themselves and others in their community from crime," says Cox.
The focus remains on gang and community outreach. The gang task force continues to strive for early intervention and education, trying to ensure young people there are other options besides gangs.
Just as an example, for the first time this year, Riverbend will be hosting an anti-gang and youth awareness event as a part of its festivities.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:16 AM EDT2013-05-21 09:16:37 GMT
The search and rescue efforts taking place in Oklahoma bring back difficult memories for one Chattanooga man.More >>
The search and rescue efforts taking place in Oklahoma bring back difficult memories for one Chattanooga man. David Wilson survived when a tornado touched down on his college campus, but it was several hours before first responders could reach him.More >>