Increasing violence leaves parents worried about safety of kids
"It's increased here; it's increased all over the nation. Small and rural areas are even seeing gang activity," said Curtis Penney, Chattanooga Police Department.
With violence popping up around the area, parents are concerned about the safety of their children.
"Sometimes parents don't know what they're looking at. They don't understand what's going on, the gang culture; it is so fluid it changes constantly. We get phone calls all the time from parents and grandparents, asking specific questions about things trying to determine if their child is in a gang," said Penney.
Penney says it's important for parents to educate themselves.
"Knowledge is power, whenever you have knowledge of anything you have a better understanding of it," said Penney. "I don't think there is any more worry from the next day to the other. There is no way of telling. We don't have a crystal ball to tell us when the violence will spark, however, it's almost like we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."
That light, he says, is Mayor Berke's violence reduction initiative. But he also says, programs, like Chattanooga Elite will help with violence too.
"Programs like this are a way to curb the violence, to give kids something to do. It keeps them off the streets, it saves lives," said Penney.
Leroy Alexander Jr. is a basketball coach for Chattanooga Elite. He says the program gives him peace of mind for his players.
"My team we practice on Tuesday and Thursday, that's two nights we know where the kids are," said Alexander.
"When you can get a kid and grasp them and get them into a program like this, this is the coaching, the teaching, the mentoring and you hope to teach them the realities of it and hope they continue to stay on that path," said Penney.
Penney says they hope the community jumps on board to help in the fight against violence.
To learn more about the Chattanooga Elite program, click here.