Chattanooga Police announce new steps to reduce gun violence
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Chattanooga police and the mayor’s office announced the latest step in trying to control gun violence in the city. It comes after a turbulent weekend in which 7 people were shot—two of them fatally.
Last May, the police department paid $200,000 for new police technology called NIBIN – National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. The NIBIN program allows police to match shells and casings almost immediately following a crime.
“This technology is going to support an expansion of the staffing of the Chattanooga police department consistent with a budget I just submitted late, late Friday night to bring your staffing to over 500 officers,” says Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.
Chief Fletcher says it means 14 new officers, to replace 14 veterans who will join the team. They will be part of a Rapid Response Team, a Gang Unit Crime Focus, and a Gun Team.
Sgt. Josh May is the Chattanooga Police Gang Coordinator. He says, “They will be specifically assigned to gun related violence. Every gun that’s taken in off these streets we’ll review. We’ve had three thousand two hundred and 33 guns taken into the Chattanooga Police department since 2013. They will investigate every one of those gun cases and look how they can be prosecuted at a later time.”
The rapid response team will investigate every “shots fired” call regardless.
“As we have seen over the last several years, with the advent and proliferation of social media, what used to take weeks to turn into violence, now takes literally hours,” Sgt. May continues.
Chattanooga now has about 485 police officers.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke was on hand for the announcement. He said, “We’re now going to based on Chief Fletcher’s budget request, we’re going to go up to 500. That will allow us to staff he new gun unit ..uh, and again to link these guns to the people and the crimes they commit. ”
The increase is the size of the police force is subject to approval by the city council.
Mayor Berke and Chief Fletcher say the “multi-layered” program is supported by the FBI, ATF, U.S. Attorney’s office and the Hamilton county district attorney’s office.