FIRST ON 3: Lieutenant who played key role in city's anti-crime - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

FIRST ON 3: Lieutenant who played key role in city's anti-crime initiative resigns

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CPD Lt. Todd Royval. TFP photo CPD Lt. Todd Royval. TFP photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE: Sources at Chattanooga Police Department say a lieutenant, who played an important role in the city's Violence Reduction Initiative, has now resigned from the police department. 

Last month, Lt. Todd Royval stepped down from his position overseeing the Crime Suppression Unit, according to a department email obtained by Channel 3 Eyewitness News. The email says he left the unit due to personal reasons and would be re-assigned.

However, multiple sources at the department now say the 20-year veteran has quit and plans to work in the private sector.

When asked why he chose to leave the department, he responded, "New job with better opportunities. That's it."

Royval did not disclose where he is going to work. He did say the new job does not involve security or police work. 

He is the latest departure that has affected the mayor's anti-crime initiative.

The city's anti-crime model is based on criminologist David Kennedy's focused deterrence principals. Offenders associated with violence are offered resources if they give up a life of violent crime. Otherwise, they are told they face lengthy prison sentences. 

In June, the city ousted Richard Bennett, CEO of A Better Tomorrow, after he was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, open container and possession of marijuana. The city was days away from entering into a contract with Bennett. He was going to provide outreach and support services for participants in the initiative.

The initiative operated without a police chief for months after former Chief Bobby Dodd retired in December of 2013. The city launched a nationwide search resulting in Fred Fletcher getting sworn in as chief. According to the email, Fletcher is now re-structuring the investigation bureau at the department.

Fletcher told officers the initiative will continue uninterrupted despite Royval's absence, according to the email.

Royval's departure comes at a time when some community members are calling into question the effectiveness of the program after spikes of violence. While shootings decreased in 2014, homicides increased.

Last year, the city had 27 homicides -- the highest number of killings in the last decade and a 42 percent increase over last year. Just one week into 2015, there have been three homicides with no arrests made.

Early this morning, 20-year-old Talitha Bowman was shot to death at College Hill Courts. Three other people were injured, including a one year old toddler. Overnight, two more people were shot in different incidents. 

A police lieutenant, who played a key role in Chattanooga's anti-crime initiative, is now being re-assigned, according to an internal email obtained by Channel 3 Eyewitness News. Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said Lt. Todd Royval has left the position due to personal reasons. 

“After some open and candid conversation with Lt. Royval, Chief of Staff [David] Roddy and the rest of Executive Staff, I agreed,” Fletcher said in an email sent to all sworn personnel Friday morning.

It's unclear where Royval will be re-assigned.

The move comes as part of a restructuring effort at the department for the entire investigative division.

“The entire Investigations Bureau is currently undergoing structural re-organization to ensure we are as efficient and responsive at addressing crimes of violence as possible,” Fletcher said. “This change in personnel will be reflected in that ultimate re-organization which will occur sometime after the new year.”

There have been 27 homicides so far this year, a 42 percent increase compared to last year. The number of shooting incidents has decreased by about 12 percent this year resulting in 120 people injured or killed.

The city's anti-crime model is based on criminologist David Kennedy's focused deterrence principals. In a previous interview, Kennedy, a professor at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York, said the results of the program would be noticeable in a short period of time. It's a program that has seen results in other cities across the country.

The city held it's first call-in meeting for offenders associated with violence back in March to offer them options of help if they put down the guns.

Royval said in an interview back in October that the department had not established any set goals or benchmarks for decreasing crime. He also said that Chattanooga could not be compared to other cities using similar focus deterrence programs because cities have different populations and gang problems. 

Fletcher assured officers that the mayor's Violence Reduction Initiative will continue uninterrupted despite Royval's vacancy.

“Nonetheless in the coming weeks we will be engaging in a process to fill that open position,” Fletcher said. “Until then, the support system of VRI is still fully functioning and in place.”

Royval, who has worked at the department for 20 years, was also praised by Fletcher in the email.

“I personally want to express my thanks and gratitude to Lt. Royval for the work and energy he has committed to this effort,” Fletcher said.

In 2007, Royval was instrumental in starting the department's Crime Suppression Unit — a unit responsible for tracking gang activity. He was also tasked with helping carry out an anti-crime initiative for the city's last administration before Berke took office.

Stay with Channel 3 and for more on this developing story.

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