City in talks with Hope for the Inner City to coordinate outreac - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

City in talks with Hope for the Inner City to coordinate outreach for anti-crime initiative

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Another nonprofit is in talks with the city to coordinate outreach efforts as part of the Violence Reduction Initiative.
 
On Monday, Paul Green, the director of the Hope for the Inner City, met with leaders at city hall. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The meeting comes just days after Richard Bennett, founder of A Better Tomorrow, was arrested at East Lake park on Friday night.
 
Before the arrest, city council members were expected to approve a one-year contract for $329,100 with the nonprofit. Bennett was the only one to submit a bid to the city last month.
 
Chattanooga announced it will re-request bids to manage cases of young men connected to violence seeking help as part of the initiative.
 
Lacie Stone, spokeswoman for Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, said if Hope for the Inner City submits a bid to coordinate resources for call-in participants, it would build on many services the nonprofit already offers.

"They’re already offering a variety of VRI related services,” she said. “They’re simply not doing the coordination piece. I'm sure a proposal would include added capacity.”

Hope for the Inner City, which is already budgeted to receive $75,000 for an ex-offender program as part of the mayor’s proposed budget, is expected to submit a bid.
 
“I would hope that the administration would look at that organization,” said Chattanooga City Councilman Moses Freeman.

In light of Bennett's arrest, the city obtained a new number over the weekend for call-in participants to dial in order to get resources, Stone said.

"We are not disseminating the number via mass media at this time, so that we can focus on the needs of VRI participants and group members," she said.

Stone said the last time the number was publicized in the media, a flood of phone calls was directed toward Bennett.
 
“It was just a mass of calls that weren’t VRI related,” she said. When more resources are on board, that number will be made available, she said.
 
Paul Smith, the city’s public safety coordinator, and Chattanooga Police Lt. Todd Royval spent Monday reaching out to participants, Stone said.
 
Chattanooga police arrested Bennett Friday after they found him with a woman in a parked minivan in East Lake Park.
 
A small bag of marijuana, open Budweiser beers and an open bottle of Patron tequila were found inside the vehicle. Hydrocodone pills were found inside a container on Bennett’s key chain. He was charged with violating open container laws as well as two counts of possessing a controlled substance.
 
Bennett, who is also running for school board, has a court date set for July 1.

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