Gang violence in Chattanooga has been a problem for quite some time.
Recent upgrades in the Chattanooga Police Intelligence Unit, improvements to the crime analysis center and getting out into the streets have helped greatly.
Chattanooga Police Sergeant Josh May says, “the trend right now is we’re experiencing an uptick in violence. Usually comes along with changes in season.”
But how they thrive is to get to the core of the issue.
A lot of the recruiting starts young in school through peer pressure, passing the culture from generation to generation and being enabled by parents and guardians.
May explains, “that’s probably our number one issue is stop the recruiting process. We may never change the mindset of the gang member that’s been doing this for 20 years. But, we can probably get in before he joins middle school and elementary school age and that’s when we want to get there.”
This particular group of people lack adequate conflict resolutions skills.
And motivations for gang violence have shifted.
“Most of our shootings and gang activity are over disrespect. People talking about x, y and z. A lot of times there’s a female involved; a girl something like that. We don’t see a whole lot of narcotics relates. While there is at the end of the day money to be made. There is activity that goes along with that. It’s not a prerequisite to join a gang. Most of it is disrespect related and it’s not even turf related anymore, ” explains May.
One community leader in the Avondale area says many residents don’t even want to go outside anymore.
She says they’ve had it and are doing something about it.
So, more neighborhood watch groups are forming, officers are walking the streets and introducing themselves out into the community are some top strategies to fighting violence.
Glenwood Block Leaders Coordinator Dr. Everlena Holmes tells us residents are, “…afraid to come out and sit on their porch. They just don’t feel empowered as a community or resident. We have teachers that are teaching kids that can’t relate to the children to the youth. Their parents who don’t have the parenting skills that are expected to participate in their children’s activities.”
This Saturday at the East Chattanooga Youth Development Center, there will be a community meeting.
The public is encouraged to attend and join in on the active discussion.