published Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Police union cites growing gang problem as need to boost benefits

by Cliff Hightower
A criminal suspect recently was apprehended by the Crime Suppression Unit, a special unit that focuses on high crime areas and gang related incidents. Staff File Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press
A criminal suspect recently was apprehended by the Crime Suppression Unit, a special unit that focuses on high crime areas and gang related incidents. Staff File Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Some of the gangs in Chattanooga include:

* Gangster Disciples

* Bloods

* Crips

* Vice Lords

* Money Over Everything

* Cutthoat

* Kemp Drive Posse

* Eastdale Blood

* Wood Lawn Crip

* Alton Park Blood

Source: Chattanooga Police Department


* Jan. 16 — Santonio Rutledge is shot in the knee during a fight at 2510 E. Main St. just after 12 a.m. No arrest made.

* Jan. 21 —Derrick Lewis, 28, is shot in the right buttock behind Terry’s Lounge at 4010 Rossville Blvd. Cordirrus Birt, 20, who also goes by the surname “Jones,” was arrested Feb. 25.

* Feb. 5 — A 15-year-old is shot in the left upper leg at a party at 1404 E. 16th St. The juvenile didn’t seek help for 10 hours and initially told police he’d been shot in a drive-by. No arrest made.

* Feb. 10 — Lavante Favors, 25, is shot in the head in his apartment at 3726 Dorris St. His girlfriend found his body.

* Feb. 18 — Domnick Sherrell, 17, is fatally shot in the 1300 block of North Orchard Knob. His girlfriend’s mother, Margaret Harris, is charged in the death.

* Feb. 26 — A 17-year-old male is shot in the neck during a fight in front of Memorial Auditorium at 399 McCallie Ave. A 15-year-old was arrested.

* March 4 — Ronald Blackmon is shot in the head on Sheridan Avenue and later dies. Edward Ryals, Jr. and Demetrius Bibbs have been charged.

* March 5 — Prandell Haynes, 20, is shot in the hand and a 3-year-old is shot in the leg at an apartment at 2300 Wilson St. No arrest made.

* March 6 — Darrell Paris, 22, is shot in the abdomen with sawed-off shotgun at 1329 Cypress Street Court. No arrest made.

* March 7 — Man is grazed from gunfire at 2302 Windsor St.

* March 9 — Jesse Myles Compton is shot in the stomach and killed at 9125 Stony Mountain Drive. Myles Stout, 20, is charged with reckless homicide.

* March 13 — Sharron Arnold, 23, is shot in each leg at 4295 Shallowford Road. No arrest made.

* March 13 — Saundra Williams, 20, is shot in shoulder and face while driving in the 1800 block of N. Hawthorne St. No arrest made.

* March 14 — Tommy Poindexter is shot five times in a domestic incident at 114 Arlington Terrace. His girlfriend’s son, Roderick C. Jones, is wanted on charges of domestic aggravated assault and attempted first-degree murder.

* March 15 — Robert Moore, 49, is shot in the abdomen on his porch at 2302 E. 14th St. He died at the hospital shortly after the shooting.

* March 15 — Leon McKinney, 25, is shot in the hand at 30 Tunnel Blvd. Moore’s nephew, Leslie Townsend, 24, is arrested.

* March 16 — Jason Hood, 37, is shot in the torso during an argument at 7648 Mallette Road. His cousin, William Larry Clark, is arrested.

* March 21—Three men were injured when gunfire broke out in the 1200 block of Cypress Street Court in the College Hill Courts development. The victims include: 22-year-old Marcel Hawthorne, 20-year-old Eric McMath, and 18-year-old Jermichael Powell were all shot near 1236 Cypress Street Court

* March 23 — Edward Rollins, 21, is shot four times as he was walking home from a friend’s house at 11:30 p.m. near 3825 Highland Park Ave. He taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Using an issue that resonates with residents after a spate of shootings and homicides in the last couple of weeks, police unions are saying they can’t fight criminal street gangs without better benefits from the city of Chattanooga.

“If we’re worried about how we’re going to take care of our own family, it’s going to hinder our performance,” said Phil Grubb, president of Local 673 International Brotherhood of Police Officers, who has worked at the Chattanooga Police Department for 17 years.

An electronic billboard on state Highway 153 flashes two messages from the IBPO:

“Chattanoogans take gang violence SERIOUSLY. Too bad the MAYOR doesn’t. Mayor Littlefield: Step up or step aside.”

And, “Mayor Littlefield is too busy fighting police to pay attention to gang violence. And the gangs couldn’t be happier.”

More signs are planned in the coming weeks as part of a publicity campaign to pressure Mayor Ron Littlefield and the Chattanooga City Council to enter into an agreement with officers, Grubb said.

Littlefield’s spokesman, Richard Beeland, said Wednesday the mayor would not comment on anything regarding the unions, and neither would anyone within the administration.

“We are done with it,” he said.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd declined several requests for interviews and would not answer questions on gangs or the billboards posted by his officers.

Grubb said benefits have been changed and reduced in recent years, making it tougher for police officers to do their jobs.

Among the issues with the city, he cited officers’ pensions possibly changing to 401(k) plans, reduced overtime and cutting insurance for retirees once they reach 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

“We have been taking hits for six years now and the public safety comes at a cost, and that’s why you have the problems you have now,” said Grubb, who said officers have not received raises in several years.

He said it’s difficult to retain officers without pay or benefit increases. The latest cut came in the form of charging officers who live outside of the city limits to take their patrol cars home.

Council members questioned whether some of the police union statements were completely accurate.

Councilman Jack Benson said he has brought up a few times that police and fire pension benefits for future employees need to be addressed and that could amount to some type of 401(k)-type defined-benefit program.

But he said that only pertains to “new” hires, not those already on the force.

“I have no intention of touching their benefits,” he said. “We have an obligation.”

Councilman Russell Gilbert said the fire and police pension fund has been brought up a few times at council meetings.

He supports reforms for new hires.

“The new ones, we need to change that,” Gilbert said.

However, police officials and city officials have stated it will take a community effort to fight gangs. Police officials said the department has adjusted resources by doubling the size of its Crime Suppression Unit, which manages a gang database, to 10 officers e.

Union representatives say that’s not enough resources.

“When they say they have the resources, we tell you to read the headlines. You can take their word for it or you can read the news yourself,” said Sgt. Craig Joel, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “You are being assured on one hand ... but when you have weekly shootings and homicides, that tells a different story. Who are you going to believe?”

Ken Stricklan, president of East Lake Neighborhood Crime Watch, said he thinks the billboards are needed to send a message to City Hall to allocate more funding for public safety.

“My input is the mayor has sat back and claimed we have no gang problems,” he said. “The mayor, to me, he doesn’t want to stop the gangs. It breaks my heart when I turn on the TV and see kids killing kids. ... I think the mayor needs to work with the police department instead of working against them.”

Joel said there are more than 50 documented criminal street gangs in the city. The Crime Suppression Unit focuses on the most violent ones, he said.

While the unit works hard to react to gang-related crime, he said, “Our concern is the resources we have drawn from are reduced month by month and year after fiscal year.”

Councilman Peter Murphy said he has heard the Crime Suppression Unit would be beefed up and the police department is talking with the county about delivering additional assistance.

Murphy said he strongly supports the police department but doesn’t necessarily see a link between recent street violence and police benefits.

“I don’t think gangs react to that,” he said. “I don’t think gangs react to our looking at retirement benefits.”

When asked if the billboards might hurt the relationship between officers and City Hall, Grubb responded, “We couldn’t be alienated anymore. They’ve never done anything pro-police. When you’re backed in a corner, you have nowhere else to go.”

“Every year or every month they are taking some benefit from us,” Grubb said.

“At the same time, when those gunshots ring out in the park [we hear] ‘You better run out and find out who’s doing that.’”

Should the city make cuts to police officers' benefits?
  • Yes. 22%
  • No. 78%

379 total votes.

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cannonball said...

Just read an article about the big raid on a gambling joint on brainerd rd. Why spend time and money on this when we have such a huge gang problem. Maybe the gamblers are easier to arrest. Kinda like the street hookers.

March 24, 2011 at 5:50 a.m.
sage1 said...

I would like to think that Mayor Bitterfield and all of the City Coucil will be voted out come election day, but voters memories are very short it seems to me. Especially when the lies and rhetoric (Look at what I have done for you!) are flying on the campaign trail and are gobbled up like a nymph on a trout stream.

March 24, 2011 at 6:31 a.m.
Amos_Ives_Root said...

the police department is LYING about the gang "Money Over Everything." the real name is "MUSLIMS OVER EVERYTHING." they just don't want to alarm the public!! maybe we should be alarmed.

March 24, 2011 at 7:34 a.m.
Amos_Ives_Root said...

muslim jihadist philosophy is incubating in our prisons and spilling over into our streets through street gangs like "MUSLIMS OVER EVERYTHING." soon we will have an american mujahideen if we dont put a stop to this now!

March 24, 2011 at 7:43 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Gangs? Non-contributors? Bored, lazy, and dangerous?

Round em up, ground em up, and ship them off to third world countries in nice pretty packages labeled "emergency food supply."

(Joking.. for the most part)

March 24, 2011 at 8:28 a.m.
bpqd said...

Protecting parks with Police who have to put in overtime is not an example of adequate logistic preparations for law enforcement in the area.

Relying on the idea that hard working people are going to work harder when they already have a difficult and stressful job is not going to solve large emergencies or chronic problems.

Those chronic problems include gang violence.

Make tired people work more for less: that's the kind of answer the Mayor is expecting we use, now. He's busy handing millions to business buddies in tax breaks on real estate deals. It's likely that he, like his predecessors, is paving the way for increased riches for himself when he gets out of office.

It's obvious that Mayor Littlefield has been beyond wrong when it comes to dealing with the Police department.

I'm not so sure the word "boost" adequately describes offering city employees, particularly those in hazardous jobs, normal benefits and average pay.

A previous poster was right: we should offer Police and Firefighters and other city workers benefits which are comparable with the private sector. That seems to be what they are asking for. Instead, we are giving them far below average compensation for reasonably good work they provide.

We have local politicians who will bend over backwards to give away many millions to individual corporations, while claiming that they can't afford to pay a few cents to operate a police car for a few more minutes. What nonsense. We're tired of the Republican corporate real estate cronyism that has entrenched itself in the Mayor's office for the past three administrations.

Pay the City employees a reasonable wage. That includes medical, dental, disability and life insurance packages.

That includes hourly wages which are above 40% the national mean. Notice how local politicians attract companies to the area, then those companies pay the workers less than average wages. From there, we see further decreases in worker pay. It's not satisfactory.

Poor pay and low benefits mean that people will leave the area to find a job that offers a decent wage. Tennessee is in the nation's bottom 25% in retaining college graduates; it's not that we produce fewer smart people; it's that the pay is so ridiculously low and the treatment from employers so poor that there is often little reason beyond family to remain in the area.

We need to see competitive pay and benefit packages for city employees that involve the radical increases required to bring us up to average. It will take a dramatic overhaul to support reasonable, living wages in this area.

I recommend we start with a corporate real estate tax increase of at least 5% to make up for the damage done by political cronies by the buildup of their selfish, self-appointing, self-approving, unwanted political crony payoffs.

Increase corporate real estate taxes. Pay the Police. Reject Mayor Littlefield's crony schemes.

March 24, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Bunch of union crybabies. Put some of the fat lying slobs from the court house cop detail on patrol, they get chased enough it might burn some fat off their coffee fetchin, judge kissing behinds. The gang problem is not going away just the same as police and political corruption is not going to go away. The cops don't like their jobs, quit you cry babies. As always , its about money and nothing more. We are burdened with more stupid laws to generate money for the greedy government. Cops don't care one bit about our safety, just being thugs to appease their sick egos and take more money away form the citizens. Vigilate justice works where the courts and the cops don't.

March 24, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.
Vguy said...

This is a direct assault against the middle class working folks around the nation. These officers are not asking for the world, it sounds to me like they want to be treated fairly. They are having to work over 40 hours per week without overtime?

If our police are injured in the line of duty they have their pay cut by 25% until they come back to work. That is ridiculous.

These kind of assaults against the middle class ( if there is such a thing anymore) must stop. When workers rights and benefits are cut it rolls over to the private and public sector, this is the new norm. This is not just a City of Chattanooga issue or police issue, this is a nationwide issue on the attack of the working folks.

If a person works for a company ,private or public sector for 25-40 years of their life, paid into their pension tens of thousands of dollars, they do not want to be told they are going to have their pension destroyed, that is un-American. These are not the principals this country was built on. People on Wall Street are not taking benefit cuts and they surly are not taking pay cuts. They created this financial disaster that we find our country in today and they are unaccountable for their actions.

I stand with the American workers on these issues and they should have the support of every hard work man and woman out there. Ask yourself, is this America, the best country ever or is this China? We owe it to our children and grandchildren to stop this assault on the middle class. If this keeps up what will the United States look like in 40 years?

March 24, 2011 at 9:25 a.m.
moose804 said...

I would like to make a couple of things very clear;

1) I never said that the Police "could not" or "would not" fight the gang problem without better benefits. I was making the point that the continued cuts to the benefits weigh on the minds of Officers while they are doing everything they can to address the issues of gang violance. I have stated in every interview that I have given, that the Police will do what ever it takes to fight these gangs and protect the citizens, and that we stand behind our Chief 100%. Police Officers are citizens too, and the victims of the violance are our friends, neighbors, and families also. The billbords did not go up because of the incident in the park. They went up because of a series of attacks on our benefits.

2) I never said that there was a link between the gang violence and benefits. The point that I was making was that at a time when gang violance is spiking, city hall is cutting benefits for Police. All of these points, and several others are the reason we have to put up billboards and take other means of action to get the truth out to the public.

We are not asking for anything from the council and mayor that is not reasonable. We are not asking for a big raise, we understand that times are tough and there are citizens all over that are not getting raises. We are asking for our benefits that were taken away to be retsored and left alone. Give Officers the piece of mind that our families are going to be taken care of so that we can concentrate on attacking the violance issues. We should not be wasting time fighting with six figure salery politicians over the benefits of an already under paid police officer. At the same time, when they bring the fight to us we have to, and we will, defend ouselves and our families.

These are some of the points that are always left out of the news articles and TV interviews, and that is why we have to put up billboards and and do other things to get our message out.

The wastful spending, and the constant attack on the foundation of our city (Police, Fire, & Public Works) has got to stop before we loose our city.

P. Grubb IBPO President

March 24, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.
DoN2Much said...

honestly my opinion on gang members or people that feel it is ok to just go around shooting people for absolutely no good reason is to make them inlist in the army for war and have them on the frontlines since they can careless about human lives and they can shoot all they want and that i feel is punishment enough... either they can survive like the streets or die in it the way they took someone elses life!!!

March 24, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.
aidehua said...

It seems the police union is saying "Nice city you have there... You wouldn't want anything to happen to it now would you?" The police union's threat is implicit in their statement. FDR wrote in 1937, "Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees." Oh well!!!

March 24, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
sangaree said...

Sounds more like terroristic threats. As in, "look what we'll unleash on Chattanooga citizens if we don't get what we want!" Makes you wonder who's really behind all this sudden rash of criminal activity?

March 24, 2011 at 4:35 p.m.

Ron Littlefield does not care who those gang members shoot as long as it is not some of the people in the elite click off of the Signal or Lookout Mtn.

The point is as long as they can contain the problem to the ghetto areas of town and let them shoot each other silly then they don't give a damn. I know for a fact that this does not work in the long run because gangs tend to be very terrorial in there social patterns and they like to expand there turf for more money and drug sales.

Get with it Ron or get out of office !

March 24, 2011 at 6:09 p.m.
sangaree said...

@hotdog, what in the he%$! are you rambling about? I can sympathize with your grief, but I was not referring to you. I was referring to the CPD who appear to be using threats and holding Chattanooga citizens in fear of what will happen if they, police department, don't getw what they want! I hadn't even read any of your comments. I read the story. These onslaught of crimes all of a sudden seems to coincide with angry cops not getting their way. That alone should make citizens wonder what's really behind all these back to back crimes? Gosh! Take a breather! Whew!

March 24, 2011 at 7:21 p.m.
Vguy said...

Sounds like sangaree may have had a few if not many run-in's with the law or is not from Chattanooga. Maybe the crime is out of control in our city because they are supposed to be a 500 officer department and they are sitting around 400 for years and years, ever give it that some thought? Have you ever considered where all that allotted money for the other 100 officers has gone? It's usually the criminals out there who are first to blame and bash the police, give it a break, they are working very hard out there. These city leaders have been cutting our police department short for years and years, of course our city is going to over run by thugs and gangs, that's a no brainier.

March 24, 2011 at 10:55 p.m.
Vguy said...

Oh, payingattention, I understand your post. Sangaree is the son of Ron Littlefield. Of course his son would have to be the only one sticking up for his father. Sangaree please do not move back to Chattanooga, one is all this city can handle, now go to bed, you have been exposed.

March 24, 2011 at 11:06 p.m.
enufisenuf said...

Grobb, if your thugs are too distracted to do their job, and your a bit contradictory there, go drive a cab. Idiot.Most working class people don't have waht you have and can't play the 'we might get killed card" you chose your job, suck it up. I don't see the firemen or our soldiers whinning about they mmight get killed. Dam crybaby

March 24, 2011 at 11:33 p.m.
Echo said...

Please people. The Chattanooga City Council has put up some signs in Chattanooga City Parks. They have little "gun busters" signs at those parks because the City of Chattanooga decided to "opt-out" of the law that allows LAW-ABIDING citizens to defend themselves, as is the case in State and Federal parks. We all know that the big thinkers on the City of Chattanooga City Council know better than state and federal lawmakers.

It's not the gangs, it's those lumps of metal. Sometimes they just take themselves someplace and "bang!" all by themselves. What we need is more knee jerk reactionary laws. It's gotten us to the safety we were promised, hasn't it? A fair trade for your liberty, right?

Don't call the police. Court cases have repeatedly ruled that police have no legally binding responsibility to protect individuals, just to maintain general order. They are not a personal bodyguard detail unless you are a politician, of course.

So if you are afraid of guns, and defending yourself, just go to a City of Chattanooga park and you'll be just fine. It's a "gun free zone"

Otherwise the elections for the City Council are in 2013. The Feds should step in because federal gun crimes have mandatory sentences and these gangs are multi state operations. If the feds can come into town and bring federal gun charges against a local chapter of a national motorcycle club, they can bring federal charges against gang bangers too.

March 25, 2011 at 12:10 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Hey notdog,

I don't hate blacks, I may be black for all you know. I just enjoy baiting you to attempt to communicate.

It is the most absolutely hilarious thing to watch your rambling idiocy in a public forum.

The unrecognizable mess that must spill from your mouth when you speak in person would keep south park writers busy for years.

March 25, 2011 at 8:51 a.m.
dao1980 said...

aaaahahahaha! that is great!

We have got to get you on TV man, you would be a sensation for sure!

March 25, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.
sage1 said...

Budget cuts that involve salaries should start at the top. Let the top ranking city officials lead by example! The subjects in the kingdom will not be as restless if they see the kings also taking cuts rather than whining about money shortages and then giving themselves raises every year. Look at this list that is almost 2 years old:

That's 122 salaries. You could cut the BOTTOM $60,000 salary on the list by 25% and he would still make $3000 more than the Average Police Officers Salary of $42,000.

Then there is the amount of waste poured out every year not to mention dropping the ball and letting a law suit wait 4 years after the fact to collect $1.5 million dollars on shoddy riverfront work.

Nothing ever changes.

March 25, 2011 at 12:17 p.m.
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