Chattanooga police up patrols in Coolidge Park, downtown
Chattanooga police are hoping to prevent more fights like the one outside of Riverbend this past weekend. Chief Bobby Dodd is adding more officers to the weekend patrol for the rest of the summer.
Police say with school out and the longer summer days ahead, more teens will be out on the streets of Chattanooga, and they say sometimes that can lead to trouble. CPD is beefing up patrols around downtown and Coolidge Park.
Last Saturday, a bystander captured cell phone video of a group of teens getting into a brawl on Market Street after Riverbend. It shows at least a dozen young people throwing punches and kicks. One person came away with minor injuries. It is fights like the Market Street brawl that Chattanooga police are trying to prevent. As the days heat up, so will patrols from police officers.
"I think it's great. We've come so far, we don't want to go backwards," says Mary Avans.
Avans and her kids are frequent visitors to Coolidge Park. She is happy to hear CPD is adding 10 extra patrol officers to Coolidge and the downtown area on weekends, all to keep an eye on teens who may be up to no good.
"I think it's great that they do recognize it and that they take a stand and do something about it before we lose control of it," says Avans.
In 2011, the city enacted a curfew for teens in city parks after shootings in Coolidge left five people injured the year before. But the trouble jumped across the river to downtown, which had businesses asking for an increased police presence.
"It helps attract business to us, so we're very appreciative of it. Hopefully it works out well," says Robert Pompilio.
Pompilio owns Rita's Italian Ice on Market. He and other business owners complained to the city, saying large groups of teens were crowding the streets last summer, causing trouble. He says this year he can not afford any disruptions to business.
"The season was slow in the beginning because of the weather and it's just now starting to kick in," he says.
Chattanooga police say they will work hard to keep downtown safe and inviting.
"We've developed Chattanooga so much that it's a family place down here. And we want to feel safe and we want to use it," says Avans.
Those 10 extra officers will come at a cost. Their shifts will be covered with overtime money. Later this summer, CPD will add 20 new officers to the force, which Chief Dodd says should help.
Coolidge Park closes at 11 p.m., but teens are not allowed in after 6 p.m. without an adult. The citywide curfew for teens on the weekends is midnight.