Every person in our community needs to feel safe. It’s hard to sit out on your porch or visit a neighbor if you’re worried about falling victim to crime.
Over the last few years, I have pushed to make sure we do everything we can to provide the safety and security all Chattanoogans deserve. Whether it was putting the most officers ever on the streets, implementing community policing in neighborhoods, bringing on a US Attorney to prosecute crimes, or building a new Family Justice Center to help victims of domestic violence — I have pushed for better solutions to fight crime in our city.
And we have made progress. Chattanooga has seen a 10% decrease in violent crime since 2014, and property crime is at historic lows. I see the hard work our police officers put into keeping our communities safe and what a difference it makes.
But any good news is wiped away when I listen to a mother who has lost a child to gun violence. I speak to family members about their loved ones who have fallen victim to a senseless crime, and I find myself thinking about the stories of careers, relationships, and lives cut short.
There are simply too many guns on the streets in the hands of those who want to do harm, and I am more determined than ever to do everything I can to prevent future stories of heartache and grief.
Yesterday, I stood with leadership of the Chattanooga Police Department and we announced several new strategies that we will use over the next four years to stop shootings and gang violence and get illegal guns off the streets.
First, we’ll put more officers on the streets. Next year we’ll add 14 new officers to the force, raising our total sworn officers to 500. This is more police than ever before in our city’s history. But more officers alone is not enough. We’ll use our increased force to create three new units in CPD that are focused on gangs, guns, and shootings.
First, a new Gun Unit will focus on getting more illegal guns off the streets using new technology and a close partnership with State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Second, we will task a Gang Unit with going after gang members, keeping our attention on those who are doing the most harm. And third, a Rapid Response Team will respond to shootings as quickly as possible.
Finally, our police who risk their lives every day to protect us need our support. I’ve been there for our officers – investing in the tools, support, and pay they need to take care of their families, do their job quicker and easier, and keep us safer. That’s why I’m proud the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents a majority of Chattanooga Police Officers, has endorsed me for Mayor. I am honored to have their support and, over the next four years, I’ll make sure Chattanooga keeps supporting our officers.
I am running for re-election because I know what it takes to build a city where every person feels safe and our young people have the opportunity to choose a path towards success instead of violence. There is no one answer to solve this issue in our community, and the answers can sometimes seem as complex as the problem. But I am more determined than ever, with your help, to build on our progress and work together for a safer Chattanooga over these next four years.