The Community Haven announces namesake Patrol
Nonprofit executive director says goal is not to police but address "root causes" of crime, better educate community
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — The Community Haven Patrol is the brand-new safety initiative from the Chattanooga-based Community Haven.
It isn’t looking to police, but rather to teach its neighbors and surrounding families.
Kevin Muhammad, the executive director of the Community Haven, says the Patrol’s mission is simple — make their community “a decent and safe place to live.”
The footprint and outreach they look to make and leave is a great one.
And they’re asking for help from both their neighbors and representatives to help them see it done.
Muhammad says the goal of the Patrol is not to “[chase] down shooters,” but to individually engage their community.
He says this will be done “street by street, house by house, block by block.”
“We empower people who actually live in that neighborhood to make their own community [a] decent and safe place to live,” Muhammad said. “It’s a different approach because we have to deal with the environment. You can take ten shooters off the street and ten more are going to come up because the environment that we live in has to change.”
Muhammad says the patrol is a “proactive” force, not a policing one, set on dealing with the “root causes” of why some turn to crime.
As an example, he believes that burglary and theft, rather than being addressed simply as crimes, can become opportunities to teach economics to residents and provide them with “mentoring” and appropriate resources.
“We’re servants of the people and we’re helping our people to meet a need — to help them come back to their original self so they can be who God created them to be,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad says The Community Haven has self-funded many of its own resources, including its patrol cars.
Although the nonprofit received just one million dollars for the project from the city of Chattanooga, support from local officials is already growing.
“This is about making sure that whenever we think about public safety, we aren’t just thinking about a police department,” said Chattanooga Chief of Staff Joda Thongnopnua. “We are thinking about how the community in a community-rooted organization responds.”
“It can be done,” said Dist. 28 Rep. Yusuf Hakeem. “It will be done if we continue to work with this group of people.”
“Is it going to be easy? It won’t be,” said Chattanooga City Dist. 8 Councilwoman Marvene Noel. “Is it going to be a lot of hard work? It will be. Will we reap the benefits from our labor? Yes, indeed, and it will be bountiful.”
Muhammad says the Patrol will work through four neighboring “zones” — the first of which is drawn out in Holtzclaw Avenue, 3rd Street, Chamberlain Avenue, and Wilcox Boulevard.
He says Bushtown will be where community engagement begins, not just because the Haven is headquartered there, but because the former town was first established by Black Americans.