Does Chattanooga Have a Gang Problem?

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Do we have a gang problem in Chattanooga?

“Yes,” said Public Defender Boyd Patterson.

An affidavit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has confirmed the presence of three known gang members from two different gangs at the scene of the McCallie shooting.

With this information, some are wondering if gangs are a significant problem in the Chattanooga area.

Public Defender Boyd Patterson thinks they are.

“Gangs, no matter what size they are, will always be a problem. It’s like saying you have a cancer problem. You know, whether it’s stage one, stage two, stage three, stage four — if you have that issue in your community, it needs to be addressed.”

Juvenile Court Judge Robert Philyaw agrees.

“The gangs are prevalent in our schools. The gangs have infiltrated all the way down to our elementary schools and in our neighborhoods, and there’s a lot of work and education to be done.”

Patterson thinks the problem needs to be addressed at its root cause, poverty.

“When you have an impoverished community, you’re necessarily going to see people under different stressors, and looking at those underlying causes and doing your best to alleviate them as a community. Then, you can really start making some progress, not just against the gangs that are shooting up the streets now, but on what’s going to happen three, four, five years from now.”

According to the National Library of Medicine, a 1999 study found that gang-related homicide is significantly associated with low income and unemployment.

That study was done in Los Angeles, and while it did find correlations between gang-related homicide and factors such as age and number of parents in a household, the two most significant factors were poverty and unemployment.

Categories: Chattanooga, Crime, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News