Juvenile laws favoring juveniles? County Mayor-elect believes so…
Weston Wamp says Saturday's altercation at Finley Stadium that led to the tasing of a 16-year-old alleged repeat offender is one example of that
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A source within the Chattanooga Police Department tells News 12 the teenager arrested for Saturday’s fight at Finley Stadium, was also involved in the shooting at Hamilton Place Mall last year.
The 16-year-old in question reportedly pulled out a gun and fired several shots at Hamilton Place Mall one year ago this past Friday.
He could have been charged with reckless endangerment or attempted murder if the gunfire hit someone.
According to the 2018 statute in Hamilton County, neither of those would qualify to begin the transfer process for the teenager to adult court.
The 16-year-old might have qualified for adult court if he were 14 and under at the time of the mall shooting.
Hamilton County Mayor-elect Weston Wamp says the statute proves to juvenile offenders the laws actually favor the offenders. He adds whatever happened in juvenile court a year ago didn’t provide the rehabilitation the court seeks for our children.
“Clearly, whatever we did… whatever touch points there were in this young man’s life after the incident a year ago, it certainly didn’t lead to much change. It didn’t lead, in my estimation, to any change, as I often describe it as hopelessness.”
Hopelessness could be what the mother of one of the victims of this past May’s shooting between teenagers is feeling. Her daughter is still in intensive care awaiting more brain surgery.
Local attorney Jerry Summers says much of the violence is gang activity, but the police department won’t call it out.
“(The Chattanooga Police Department) put out this Reduction in Violence plan… 15 pages of good talk, but they never mention the word ‘gang.’ A fact of reality. We have got gangs in Chattanooga, and how you’re going to solve it is beyond my expertise. I promise you.”
Wamp: “One of the fool’s errands here in the last decade is expecting the Chattanooga Police Department to do it all. I mean, the men and women of the Chattanooga Police Department are drinking out of a fire hose. Every day. You know? And we all not only expect them to react to circumstances like this, but it seems like, from a policy standpoint, we expect them to do a lot of the work in the years leading up to it.”
Summers says the increase of violence by juveniles isn’t the fault of the police department. He believes the laws need to be strengthened and more specific or else Chattanooga could become a smaller Chicago.
Summers: “We’re having a shooting every day and so forth, and there are people that are exercising a lot of authority that should not be. And they’re ruining the lives of young people. You ruin the lives of young people, you’re ruining the future.”
I spoke with District Attorney-elect Coty Wamp yesterday, and she says she plans to be tougher on juveniles and send more to adult court.
She will have to find a way around the statute to do it.