A crime-reduction policy touted by Mayor Andy Berke during his campaign will move forward after receiving a green light Tuesday evening from the city's legislative body.
Chattanooga City Council members voted to fund a $280,000 study that will be modeled on a plan that helped cut violent crime in High Point, N.C., in half over a five-year period, according to an overview of the initative.
A Chattanooga version of the plan would center on violent crime and gangs, Police Chief Bobby Dodd said Tuesday.
Under the initiative, law enforcement officials would make contact with high-profile gang members and other suspected criminals, present cases that have been built against them, and give them an ultimatum: stop committing violent crimes or face prosecution. When asked if the department knows which individuals it would contact first, Dodd said, “Absolutely.”
With backing from the council, the crime-reduction strategy will be drafted under the direction of David Kennedy, a researcher who co-created the original plan often referred to as the High Point Initiative, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The initiative will be ready by the start of 2014.
“High Point recognizes that, in the long run, we will be judged not by how long we send away our criminals, but by how much we reduce the violence in our neighborhoods,” Berke told council members in July.
The mayor also sought $100,000 Tuesday to fund a top-to-bottom review of the police department.
That study will identify how the department uses resources, gathers data and handles records, and it will assess efficiency within the department, Dodd said.
The council approved funding for the department review with council members Chip Henderson and Larry Grohn voting against the measure.
Grohn said that while he supports the regional focus and immediate timeframe of the mayor’s High Point policy, funding for the police department review was not something he could support.
“It would be unfortunate if all we do with a $100,000 study is find out we’re doing a good job,” he said.
Updated @ 4:41 p.m. on 10/16/13 — A previous version of this story inaccurately reported that work on the High Point study would begin early next year. Chattanooga's initiative based on the High Point model will be ready by the start of 2014.
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