CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – In case you haven’t seen the statistics, there really was a huge drop in the number of homicides in Chattanooga compared to the year before.
Another surprise is that gang violence was not a factor.
SGT. VICTOR MILLER, CHATTANOOGA POLICE DEPT. “I think you’re seeing a drop in the homicides due to a whole package coming together. It’s a lot of things working that are working together to lower the homicide rate..not any one single thing that’s doing it.”
Over the last 10 years, through three police chiefs and 2 mayors, the goal of city leaders was to stop what they considered an undeserved reputation as a high crime town.
Most of the bad press was blamed on gang activity.
But there were only 20 homicides in 2018, compared to 35 in 2017.
“If you look at our 2018 homicides…out of the 20 homicides that we have…only one of them is gang motivated.”
That doesn’t rule out a gang member committing a murder…but not directly connected to gang activity.
Mayor Andy Berke launched the latest initiative when he came into office in 2013.
“We’ve done a lot over the last several years so we’ve hired a tremendous number of officers..we’ve done the violence reduction initiative ..or VRI, we’ve made sure we’re reaching out to victims…stepped up prosecution …we’ve done a lot of community relationship building..all of those things are really a part of our police department now.”
The police department is also better equipped to deal with violent crimes.
Miller adds “at the Chattanooga police department we have multiple units that work together in order to solve violence.
The homicide unit, the gun team, our crime scene unit, the focus deterrent coordinator, we all work together.”
The mayor says the lower number of homicides was not a big surprise to him.
“I follow it every day so I knew we were tracking to be much lower in 2018. We put a lot of work into stopping gun violence over the last several years.”
As for 2018, that work paid off.
In Chattanooga, Bill Mitchell News 12 Now.