Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said overall year-to-date crime is down 19.7 percent while shootings and murders are at the same level as 2014.
Most categories of crime were reflected in the numbers he presented to City Council members Tuesday. Violent crime is down 4.75 percent, and both property crime and robberies are down by double-digits.
Fletcher said three strategies-focused deterrence, community policing and intelligence-driven policing-are being looked to by other cities as alternatives to broken windows policing, “overdone and unconstitutional stop and frisk,” and broad sweeps affecting many residents who are victims of crime rather than the perpetrators of it.
“It’s what we’re doing now that the rest of the country is seeing as the future of policing,” he said.
He singled out focused deterrence in particular. The violence reduction initiative focuses law enforcement and social service resources on a small group of people thought to be driving most of the city’s violence.
Fletcher said he thinks it’s the right way to tackle the problem, even though the numbers show less of an improvement than other areas.
Shootings are largely stagnant from this time last year. Twenty-one murders this year are just shy of this time last year. The 2015 tally includes the five military service members killed in the July 16 shooting and three justifiable homicides, according to data compiled by the Chattanooga Police Department.
“While we’re not happy with being flat here, we’re very pleased we’re not seeing those dramatic spikes we’re seeing across the country,” he said.
Later in the evening, the City Council voted to continue working with the nonprofit organization that handles case management and support for the violence reduction initiative. The city’s $290,000 contract with Hope for the Inner City was supported by six council members. Larry Grohn and Chip Henderson were absent. Ken Smith abstained.
Quentin Lawrence said the organization has had success with its job placement program for offenders and others since it started working on the initiative last year. About 185 participants have gotten a job through the organization’s Father to the Fatherless mentorship program. Four have earned their GEDs.
Companies are wary of hiring people with a history of violent crime, but the organization works with them to show that employees are given tools and support, Lawrence said.
“I think with companies, most of the time it’s about the bottom line,” he said. “If we can show them there’s a community bottom line, that’s effective.”