Local leaders say public trust in police is the key to ending gang violence in Chattanooga

How to achieve that is where the leaders differ

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The Grove Street shooting last September opened up old wounds with a new question.

Even with a new police chief, how can Chattanooga put an end to gang violence?

News 12 spoke with two leaders in the community. Each has their own method to reach that goal, but it starts with one thing: trust.

Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy said this when she was introduced as Chief this past February: “If you don’t know within your community or a certain neighborhood what’s the underlying tone that’s causing these issues, then you’re not in connection with your community.”

That’s where retired Chattanooga police officer Napoleon ‘Donut’ Williams agrees. “That new chief is going to have a problem. I’ve done told several people… When they got 300 patrolmen, most of them White, from Alabama and Georgia, don’t know nobody. That’s a problem.”

Williams was the first Black detective in Chattanooga’s police department, and used to live along Grove Street. He says representation matters: that officers need to know the area and the people they are policing so better outcomes can happen.

To do that, Williams says officers need to put in some footwork.

“Getting out them cars and walk up to those grocery stores. Five- and ten-cent stores. Gas stations. Identify yourself. Introduce yourself to the community. It works, now. It works.”

Boyd Patterson, an assistant public defender campaigning to be a Hamilton County criminal court judge, says race doesn’t have to be a factor. It should be about being dependable and ethical.

“The people that live in the affected areas generally just want someone to help. So, as long as you are trustworthy and you’ve proved yourself to be a trustworthy officer, that’s when I believe a real connection can begin, and can ultimately lead to lower crime. It can lead to better outcomes fotr the at-risk youth in our community, but it all does begin with trust.”

Patterson went on to say gang issues anywhere is an everyone problem.

It affects everyone because it’s happening in schools, the mall, and even in tourist attractions.

He says how you stand up to these issues could be the difference between the same old thing and putting an end to gang violence in the city.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News