District Attorney General Neal Pinkston going his own way on gang violence.
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) The Hamilton County District Attorney General slams the mayor and police department over the city’s Violence Reduction Initiative in a statement released to the public on Tuesday.
Neal Pinkston calls the VRI a failure.
“He (Mayor Berke) promised an immediate drop in violence, particularly gang violence. As we know, that didn’t happen.”
Now he feels some city council members are roasting him in the media for the failure.
“My office is not the problem and I will not allow my staff to bear responsibility for the city’s failure. The VRI is not working because the city isn’t implementing many of the basic components the initiative requires.”
Specifically, he says the city isn’t working with his office, they aren’t building federal cases or using other leverages against gang members.
The D.A. also cites trouble with public cooperation to identify suspects.
And he also says police offers just aren’t invested.
“At a VRI meeting with CPD officers last fall, I was told the biggest obstacle to VRI success is a lack of officer buy-in. that same day came the announcement that 11 of the 12 members of the Street Crimes Response Team had asked to be reassigned.”
He says the right cases are not reaching court often enough to stop the violence.
His solution is creating a multi-agency gang unit.
Pinkston plans to lobby federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to work with his office to crack down on gang offenders.
“Ultimately, Mayor Berke and the city council bear responsibility for the success or failure of their own initiative. If implemented properly, the VRI can have a positive impact.”
Mayor Berke didn’t take the bait.
In response this afternoon, he released this statement.
“I am not interested in pointing fingers — I’m interested in ways we can make the city safer for Chattanoogans. That works best when everyone stops blaming others and comes to the table, accepts responsibility, and works together. Unfortunately, General Pinkston does not appear to be interested in doing that.”
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