It took 6 months, 75-thousand dollars, and interviews with more than 65-hundred students, but Chattanooga leaders now have their gang assessment blueprint.
The study was prepared by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies and the Center for Applied Social Research at UTC.
It's considered to be the most thorough examination of the causes of gang membership and violence in the nation.
MARCY PORTER, UTC "Yes, we have stats..and numbers are important...but we also have a tremendous amount of the 'why' and the 'how'...we can move forward and hear it directly from the students "
Fore two hours, city leaders heard how gang problems plague several Chattanooga neighborhoods...but are now moving into new areas.
UTC professors Dr. Barbara Medley and Marcy Porter summarized the result to thousands of interviews with young people..mostly from impoverished neighborhoods.
Some of the results were predictable, like the connection between unemployment and gang activity.
Other results showed kids joined gangs mostly for money and having friends.
Some would ask...how important is this report?
BOYD PATTERSON, COORDINATOR OF CAGE "It clearly outstrips any other study done before..it goes way beyond what we already knew ..And most importantly, its gets into the why."
MAYOR RON LITTLEFIELD, CHATTANOOGA "Instead of just saying "I think" and "we think" ..That sort of thing, we now have statistics that give us an indication of exactly how this problems relates to our community."
Recent downtown gang violence spurred officials to move quickly on the problem.
Patterson and Fred Houser were named to head-up the Chattanooga Area Gang Enforcement 6 months ago.
The police are working closely with them.
CHIEF BOBBY DODD, CHATTANOOGA POLICE DEPT. "It kind of validated or confirmed what we know as law enforcement." "It lets other agencies and other people who are able to donate money to the fight against gangs, I think it validates it for them as well."
Boyd Patterson says phase 2 will now begin to bring numerous groups into the mix.
He's says nothing will happen overnight, and this may take years.