Police Launch RESTART Initiative

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Harrison Pirtle
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Updated: 8/22/2014 4:48 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) - Chattanooga's new police chief has implemented what he calls a "Restart Initiative".
It's a community-based group that will help the police department reform hiring and promotions policies.
The twenty person group has already had its first meeting.

It takes a special kind of person to be a law enforcement officer.
Any of the 850 employees of the Chattanooga police department would probably echo that statement.
The training is tough and there's a lot of pressure.
And when they go on the street decisions have to be made quickly and correctly.
The last thing police officers need to worry about is getting a fair shake in promotions and benefits.
Chief Fred Fletcher wants to have more community input about those things.

CHIEF FRED FLETCHER , CHATTANOOGA POLICE DEPARTMENT "We invited people from all over the community...from advocacy groups, from business groups, from neighborhood groups, from employee groups to participate in the process to make sure we have the best process as possible."

There are twenty members of the elite committee...representative every segment of the community.
They will produce a report by next March to make sure hirings and promotions are done without regard to gender, race or sexual orientation.

One issue that will be addressed is the number of black officers on the force.
NAACP president James Mapp says that number has changed for the worst.

JAMES MAPP, NAACP " You know at one time we had 122 blacks..sworn blacks out of a police force of 339. Now we down to..they won't give us a number..I think its less than forty."

CHIEF FLETCHER "I need to work with the community groups..and they need to work with me to provide a qualified pool of applicants we can hire, that we can train, so we can retain and that we can put out into the community to serve our city."

Chief Fletcher says Chattanooga has developed a diverse population and the "Restart" initiative is designed to study the roles each group plays in the city.

He says something else is being added.
Newly hired officers will have mentors who will coach them in community involvement.

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