Preventing Violence in Chattanooga
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — After the recent officer involved shootings, in both Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina, many people around the country are feeling outraged and some are scared.
“We’re seeing it too often. It’s like a reoccurring nightmare. I know that there is some uneasiness. Anytime that you have a national issue like that of course it’s going to have an effect here locally”, said Bishop Kevin Adams.
Bishop Adams works closely with the Chattanooga Police Department to help prevent violence and said he’s noticed a trend in the officer involved shootings happening nationwide.
“What I’m concerned about is the race to deadly force.”
A sentiment shared by former Chattanooga Police Lieutenant Napoleon Williams.
“I think they’re panicking instead of using their heads. These young officers that I know personally, I tell them to think before they make a move.”
Bishop Adams recommends that officers go through reoccurring training.
“Some cultural sensitivity training and it needs to be demanded by the governor that all precincts go through this. I think we still have a long way to go. I’ve been a big opponent of thinking that there needs to be more diversity and I know they’re working on that within the department. I think that the department should be reflective of the community it is policing.”
Chattanooga Police Lieutenant Mark Smeltzer said law enforcement is equipped and ready to handle situations in the aftermath of any event.
“We have established a team “SORT”: Specialized Organized Response Team. That’s just to help be prepared for any type of protest or any civil unrest.”
“SORT” members are officers who are normally assigned to patrol, but are a part of the team as a secondary duty.
“If someone wanted to have a rally or a protest we certainly want to have dialogue with them and we want to understand what their intent and that communication and working together”, said Lt. Smeltzer.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s office released the following statement to News 12:
“The HCSO makes every attempt possible to work with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to be prepared for a variety of public safety scenarios in which the safety of the public could be placed in jeopardy. This includes any incidents of civil unrest. The level of training, equipment used, and procedures utilized by our personnel in the event of civil unrest are considered confidential for obvious reasons. It is the HCSO’s goal to make sure that every citizen is allowed to safely and legally exercise their constitutional rights as long as they do not endanger or prohibit others from voicing their opinions or their constitutional rights.”