published Friday, February 27th, 2009

Chattanooga: Brainerd residents question police actions


by Jacqueline Koch

The Chattanooga Police Department took heat Thursday night from Brainerd residents gathered at the BX community center about response times and petty crime.

About 150 people gathered for the Hilltop Neighborhood Association meeting to ask questions of Chief of Police Freeman Cooper and his staff, as well as Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Residents asked what officers were doing to prevent crime and to patrol the neighborhood that has seen a significant number of car break-ins and burglaries during February.

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“We just do not have enough officers on the street to make that happen,” Chief Cooper said in reference to eliminating crime. “We cannot arrest ourselves out of these problems.”

He encouraged neighbors to watch out for one another and to call 911 when they spot suspicious activity.

Police said a small group of people commit most of the crimes, and officers work diligently to investigate them and arrest those involved, though they often are busy responding to many incidents.

Some residents questioned the police response time to a Feb. 20 burglary-in-progress call at a home on Oriole Drive. The time from the first 911 call to police arrival was more than 20 minutes, but police said they initially received the call as a report of a suspicious vehicle, a situation that has a lower priority than an in-progress crime.

Chief Cooper reminded residents that 911 calls go through dispatchers at the 911 Center, not directly to officers. He said the recent 911 unification has caused minor problems, but that officials would work to improve those and that unification was not an excuse.

“We hold everyone accountable from the first person who answers the phone to the officer who responds to the call,” he said.

John Stuermer, director of the Hamilton County Emergency Communications District, said earlier Thursday that employees would attend more training to better adjust to unification.

Ashlee Beene, whose Oriole Drive house was the residence burglarized on Feb. 20, said she felt dissatisfied after the meeting.

“I don’t feel a lot of questions got answered,” she said. “Apparently a suspicious act is not a priority.”

Assistant Chief Mike Williams, who oversees the police department’s uniformed services division, said he encourages any local resident to ride with a police officer for a shift to gain a better understanding of the job.

“If people call me, I will make sure they get to ride with an officer,” he said.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, who lives in the area, told residents they’ll get through the tough times.

“We will find and arrest a surprisingly small number of people who will be responsible for a surprisingly large number of the incidents we’ve suffered in recent months,” he said.

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cannonball said...

I have a feeling that there is a lot more crime going on in Brainerd & East Brainerd than gets reported.

February 27, 2009 at 7:19 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Sounds like Cheif Cooper and others in the force are very thin skinned when it comes to accepting that their department has done less than it should be doing. Its rather like the post office who accept no responsibility at all when they can't do things in a timely fashion. A ride in a cop car is hardly a trade off for poor performance. What an unprofessional way to try and snowball the public for inadequate response to a known problem. Learn to act like professionals instead of crybabies

February 27, 2009 at 9:09 a.m.
Meredithemt35 said...

It's understandable to blame the police in some ways, but we as a community need to do more to prevent crime. For instance, parents need to keep better control of their children and actually know where they are instead of letting them run around the neighborhood looking for things to do to keep entertained. That's when they get into trouble. I have just bought a home in the brainerd area in January and already I have come home to damage done to my screened in porch. If able to afford, I suggest cameras surveilling the home and a monitored alarm system. It may cost money, but it provides peace-of-mind!

February 27, 2009 at 9:24 a.m.
rolando said...

Your first line of defense is YOU, not the men in blue.

Take responsibility for your OWN safety. Put a sign on your doors, "WARNING: Break in here and I shoot." Then arm yourself and do it.

Remember, "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away."

By the way, the police do NOT have any duty to protect any citizen. US Supremes said so.

February 27, 2009 at 9:47 a.m.
aluk22 said...

It's apparent Chief Cooper needs to be replaced. He's very nice but in the wrong job. On the one hand we can't arrest our way out of the situation and on the other it's just a few people doing all of it? That doesn't make sense. The police aren't getting there because the caller didn't say the magic word?

As a suspicious person could be a burglary in process the two calls should be treated the same. Don't try to discerb between "something might be wrong" and "something is wrong". Get the heck over there quick and find out what's going on.

All citizens who call police for any matter expect the police to be there soon. If the police aren't going to respond immediately they should give you an appointment time and say when they'll be there. Never let the citizen be wondering when the police are going to show. The dispatcher should never hang up the phone without making sure the callen knows when to expect the police. Don't say "soon". Say "four to six minutes" or something specific.

February 27, 2009 at 10:46 a.m.
rolando said...

Once again, the police have absolutely no duty or requirement to respond to individual emergencies, including crimes-in-progress.

The Chief knows this...he has many requirements imposed/mandated on him by law. The Chief is proceeding properly with the troops he has...you want better enforcement/response time?? Give him more officers -- better yet, hire your own home guards or consider moving elsewhere.

February 27, 2009 at 12:34 p.m.
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