Berke talks police chief search and Violence Reduction Initiativ - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Berke talks police chief search and Violence Reduction Initiative

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Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke reads to a class of elementary kids at Orchard Knob Monday. He says youth and education are among his top priorities but outside school walls it's public safety and the search for a new police chief.

"Our officers do a great job of what we ask them to do, we just need to make sure we're asking them to do the right things," Berke says.

The Chattanooga Police Department employs 564 people, 461 are sworn officers, each with their own idea of what makes a good leader.

"They really want someone who can communicate a vision of what the police department needs to be, who understands the importance of public safety in our community, who knows that talking with people in the neighborhoods is an important part of figuring out what needs to happen," says Berke. 

However, officer's aren't just getting a new chief, the way they fight crime is also about to change with the new Violence Reduction Initiative.

"If there were another situation where you saw some resistance that could cause me some concern but instead what you see is people at the police department embracing what's going on and that has me incredibly optimistic," Berke says.

He says VRI will be ready to go by the end of the month. "This is really a different way of operating, of insuring that we are tough with these offenders who are committing the worst crimes in our city while at the same time offering them the chance to escape and have a different kind of life," Berke explains.

As of Monday, there are about 45 applicants for police chief, prospective applicants have until March, 7 to apply.

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