After District 9 Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod voiced frustration with the Chattanooga Police Department over an incident involving officer force, CPD is hoping to educate leaders about its policies.
“I’ve been very disturbed by the videos I have seen,” Coonrod said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “It seems as if it has become the culture of the police department to display this type of violence, and I’ve been seeing it more and more.”
Coonrod was reacting to a June incident in which an officer pulled a 14-year-old girl from a vehicle.
The incident was recorded by bystanders and the officer’s body camera and recently distributed on social media as a contentious subject.
Excessive force accusations against the police department prompted authorities to review the body camera footage and release the entire interaction.
Coonrod said she wants action soon about how the police department has approached black citizens, including herself.
“I’m really frustrated about it,” she said. “Something needs to be done. We need to have some conversations about it and we need to start figuring out a solution to how we’re going to better serve these communities because I know the violence is not the way.”
Her comments followed a series of speeches from citizens who were also disturbed by the event.
In response to Coonrod’s questions, CPD Public Information Officer Rob Simmons said:
The City Council has requested the CPD to build an educational and interactive session with the members of the council to address the concerns which have surfaced as a result of these video postings on Facebook.
It is our hope that this type of in-depth educational conversation with our community leaders will shed light on the actions that officers take when conducting an arrest of any citizen.
Situational understanding of these arrests is important to our community members who may witness these actions in public.
Any time questions are raised over the actions of our officers (by city council or any member of our community) we take those concerns very seriously and we look forward for the opportunity to provide not only clarity, but engage in conversations with our community partners about their police department.
The video of the incident shows an officer asking the 14-year-old to turn off the car and get out. After she ignored his requests while appearing to look for something in the back seat, the officer pulled her out of the vehicle by her arm.
After reviewing the officer’s body camera footage, the CPD said the officer followed the correct protocol.
…The officer determined at that time that an unlicensed, 14-year-old behind the wheel of a running vehicle in a heavily trafficked area of town created a significant concern for the safety of that juvenile, others in the vicinity, and the public-at-large.
Based on the juvenile’s continued lack of compliance and the officer’s increasing concern for public safety, the officer shut off the vehicle and removed the female from behind the wheel.
This is all evident in the officer’s body-worn camera video included in this release.
The Chattanooga Police Department reviewed the officer’s body-worn camera in its entirety and the actions the officer took in this case.
The department determined, based on that evidence and information, the officer followed proper protocol…
Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She is a graduate of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in political science. Alina has over three years of journalism experience including time spent with CNN and 2nd & Church, a magazine based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah.