published Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Chattanooga gang task force entering new phase


by Cliff Hightower

The Chattanooga Gang Task Force will ask the City Council to approve a contract to help with implementation of a comprehensive gang strategy.

The $5,500 contract will be with the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Social Work Department.

"We're not asking for any more money," said Boyd Patterson, gang task force coordinator.

He said the department budgeted money for the implementation of the study last spring. The city paid the Ochs and UTC $75,000 almost eight months ago to conduct the study of the gang problem.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the contract is a logical step.

"It will provide structure for the implementation," he said.

The recently released study attributed Chattanooga's gang problems to a range of problems within the community -- from schools to housing to family structure.

With the study complete, Patterson said the next step is planning how to move forward.

A third phase -- fully implementing the program -- will come in about three to six months.

Some costs will be involved, but the city will not necessarily shoulder all of the expense, he said.

Funding could come from grants or private investors, he said.

The council will vote on the contract today during its 6 p.m. regularly scheduled business meeting.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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