No more gang task force for Chattanooga - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

No more gang task force for Chattanooga

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- As mayor-elect Andy Berke gets ready to take office in the coming weeks, he is already making major changes with public safety.

Berke's team announced Friday he is doing away with the Chattanooga gang task force.

Berke dropped hints in his campaign that he might change things up when it comes to fighting crime. We caught up with outgoing gang task force coordinator Boyd Patterson to talk about the changes.

"The comprehensive gang model is a national plan. It's really the best thing that's out there for gang violence. However, if the new mayor wants to expand his plan on the ground to go beyond gang violence then I hope he's successful," says Boyd Patterson.

Patterson is just one of many in the current Littlefield administration that mayor-elect Andy Berke has asked to step down as he takes office.

"This is a typical part of the process. I'm interested in making sure that we have the best people to do economic development and youth development and public safety in our city. We also want to deliver those services in the most efficient way possible," says Berke.

Patterson was head of the gang task force for more than a year. The city threw in $500,000 to support the effort. He says the work of the task force was on track and just getting started.

"To do the national plan in its full effect, it requires a year to year and a half of laying this ground work then a year and half to two and a half years to see the results," he says.

Patterson says no matter what plans Berke has in store for public safety, it is important to stay in front of the gang problem.

"Chattanooga is at a real crossroads today. What we have in all 21 zip codes is emerging gang activity," says Patterson.

He says the key is strengthening the community partnerships between businesses, churches, schools and police to build relationships with at-risk youth.

"There is a lack of role models. There is a lack of support," says Patterson. 

He hopes Berke can continue the momentum.

"2012, I think, will always be looked on as a year where everyone realized, not only how bad the gang situation was, but the beginning of a solution," says Patterson.

Berke's spokesperson says he plans on having a public safety coordinator and that more details on his comprehensive plan will be released in the coming weeks.

Patterson will remain in his position until June to finish certain initiatives the task force started. He plans on staying in the criminal justice field.

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