Councilwoman Coonrod hopes to ignite deeper discussion into community interactions with police

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – In recent weeks, police interactions have been discussed heavily after videos were posted to Facebook.

Local leaders are hoping to help lead those discussions in a direction that will bring change.

The Chattanooga Police Department says they want to acknowledge the questions raised at city council last night by reassuring the public that they are primarily focused on our department’s actions, policy and training.

Local officials say they will hold them to that promise.

Christopher Dahl says, “It’s going to take people like me who wants to encourage others want to encourage others to speak and those people might need a little push to speak to come out and say hey yeah I like what you’re saying or have her what you said and I feel the same way so I’m going to speak.”

Dahl, who is running for Hamilton County commission, says the time is now that the community demands a seat at the table.

Chattanooga City councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod believes that videos of police interactions need to be discussed at great length.

She spoke out at last night’s council meeting and she also posted to social media asking questions to spark the discussion online.

Coonrod says, “Will we resolve it overnight? No, we won’t but we have to bridge that gap and be willing to talk about it and come up with a resolution to change the perception in African-American minds. Because once we see the police roll up, we are instantly afraid and we shouldn’t have to be fearful living in the city of Chattanooga.”

The police department says they want the residents that have concerns and they believe through a partnership with city leaders they can make it happen.

Councilwoman Coonrod says, “I am supportive of Chief Roddy always have been and always will continue to be supportive of him. We will work together to make sure that we are having these conversations.”

In the case of Diana Watt that we reported on this weekend, Coonrod believes, citizens should be aware of what is protocol as well.

She says, “if we are going to drag everybody out of the car, then I’m cool with it but if we’re only dragging African Americans out of the car then I have an issue with it.”

Chattanooga Police say, “Communication is key when questions like this are asked by our community. The City Council has requested the CPD to build an educational and interactive session with the members of the Council to address the concerns which have surfaced as a result of these video postings on FB. It is our hope that this type of in depth educational conversation with our community leaders will shed light on the actions that officers take when conducting an arrest of any citizen. Situational understanding of these arrests is important to our community members who may witness these actions in public.”

He continued to say, “Any time questions are raised over the actions of our officers (by city council or any member of our community) we take those concerns very seriously and we look forward for the opportunity to provide not only clarity, but engage in conversations with our community partners about their police department.”

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