published Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Chattanooga police get good marks on review

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    Chattanooga police badge
    Photo by Staff File Photo.
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    Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga's new police chief, speaks with the media outside of the City Council room on May 13. Fletcher was a police commander from Austin, Texas.
    Photo by Erin O. Smith.
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All levels of Chattanooga Police Department staff display a "high level of commitment and pride in their work," according to a $100,000 top-to-bottom review of the department's management and operations by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The six-month review, released Friday, was part of a $340,000 plan to cut crime here that was approved by the City Council in October 2013.

"We have an incredible police department," said Fred Fletcher, who is set to be sworn in June 12 as Chattanooga's police chief, in a news release. "Through this strategic review, Mayor [Andy] Berke has made an investment in our future -- providing us the tools to drive our police force to the next level."

However, the study also indicates that crime levels are high, and robberies and aggravated assaults -- primarily shootings -- have increased. It recommends the department increase its focus on crime prevention and reduction and on building trust and community engagement.

"Fortunately," the study states, the department has adequate patrol levels and technology resources to accomplish the dual goals of community engagement and crime prevention.

Also, the review indicates the department is positioned for a change, with new crime control methods being implemented, a new chief on the way in and Berke's emphasis on public safety as a top priority.

The review recommends several tactics to improve community engagement, including applying the "lessons learned from the Violence Reduction Initiative to other crimes," reintroducing "community policing concepts," the development of juvenile "prevention and intervention programs" and using police sergeants as community liaisons.

The review also included recommendations in six other categories affecting the police force: mission and vision; data-driven strategies; staff resources; hiring, promotions and transfers; compensation and leadership development.

Contact staff writer Alex Harris at aharris@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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