published Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Chattanooga seeks new social services provider for anti-violence initiative

Paul Smith
Paul Smith
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chattanooga is expected to release a new request for proposals before the end of the week to find a coordinator of social services for its Violence Reduction Initiative, said Lacie Stone, spokeswoman for Mayor Andy Berke.

And one potential contender met with the city's Public Safety Coordinator Paul Smith on Monday to discuss the program for the first time since the arrest of a key figure who, until Friday, was expected to fill the role.

Paul Green, executive director of Hope for the Inner City, sat down with Smith to talk about the initiative this week, just days after the arrest of Richard Bennett, who ran A Better Tomorrow.

Hope for the Inner City is already involved in the social services side of the initiative and the local nonprofit ministry is likely to submit a proposal to coordinate the social services, Stone said.

In the meantime, Smith has taken over Bennett's role within the Chattanooga Violence Reduction Initiative of interacting with the city's violent offenders and their families and directing them toward a life away from crime.

Many in the city had been given Bennett's phone number and had been told to call for assistance. That phone number is now tied to an organization that the city cut ties with over the weekend after Bennett was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

A Better Tomorrow was the only organization that responded to a previous request for proposals and offered a detailed plan with a $329,100 budget. Under Bennett's proposal, Hope for the Inner City was already slated for heavy involvement in the VRI.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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