Mayor-elect Berke holds second public safety forum - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mayor-elect Berke holds second public safety forum

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – Thursday night, there is yet another gun-related death to report on a Chattanooga street.

This marks the city's second homicide this week alone.

Police found 22-year-old Charleston Patrick Beard's body in the middle of Vance Avenue around 11:30 Wednesday night.

Beard had been shot and was pronounced dead on the scene.

This year alone eight people have been killed by gun violence in Chattanooga, two of them teenagers.

Community members aren't the only ones desperate to put an end to the violence.

Eight murders in three months: it's a headline that has the attention of Chattanoogans from East Brainerd to Highland Park.

"It's not an easy story to read," says Melvin Downs from East Brainerd.

"My heart just goes out to see the community suffering the way it is," says Thomas Robbins.

"The people are anxious to do something about what's going on in the community," says Silver Roundtree from Ridgedale.

Janis Hashe was one of 300 citizens to flood Tennessee Temple's gymnasium, ready to take action.

"I really wanted to hear what other people had to say, what they were experiencing, and what their suggestions were for trying to help," says Hashe from Brainerd.

It's the second forum Mayor-elect Andy Berke has hosted in as many days.

Berke was criticized after the first forum, held online, for avoiding questions about specific plans he has to curb crime.

"I've been talking about those specific plans for a long time," Berke tells Channel 3. "I've been talking about the High Point initiative that deals with gangs, the Maryland initiative that deals with domestic violence, getting the police officers the support that we need."

Berke says Thursday night's forum was about hearing from others about their ideas not sharing his own.

"We need the best ideas from people in the city, but we also need to make sure that people are committed to helping us move forward," says Berke.

"There was really a consensus that there is not enough being done to help young people," says Hashe.

"They need to know more about the people that's on the inside of the community, instead of looking in and saying I don't understand why people are doing this or that," says Thomas Robbins from Highland Park.

Janis Hashe says she's ready to make a difference, she just needs to know what city leadership needs from her.

"People just need a direction," Hashe says. "People want to help, but they really don't know what to do."

Berke says the ideas gathered at the forum will be used as the city forms its plan to increase public safety.

Berke plans to host public forums throughout his time in office.

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