Chattanooga: Coolidge Park won't close earlier in wake of shooting

Chattanooga: Coolidge Park won't close earlier in wake of shooting

March 21st, 2011 by Beth Burger in Local - Breaking News

Chattanooga Chief Bobby Dodd speaks to the media at the Police Service Center about a recent disturbance at Coolidge Park as Mayor Ron Littlefield, right, looks on. The Chattanooga Police unveiled new measures to keep Coolidge Park safe.

Authorities will not close Coolidge Park any earlier than usual at night despite fights and crowds of juveniles, city officials said this afternoon at a news conference.

However, more officers will staff the park on weekends. And minors will not be allowed to go unaccompanied inside the park, they said.

Mayor Ron Littlefield characterized the shooting last Saturday night as "unacceptable for the community" and said "it will not be tolerated."

City officials encouraged more parental involvement and supervision of minors.

"We can't arrest our way out of this," Chattanooga Police Department Chief Bobby Dodd said. "There's just no way. Two hundred officers couldn't have stopped this from happening."

More Chattanooga police officers will staff the park on weekends, which will cost about $1,500 more every weekend, Littlefield said.

Police said they knew of a possible fight that could take place at the park over the weekend. Extra patrol officers saturated the area on Friday and young people instead appeared on Saturday night.

Officials did not classify the fights as gang related, even though they said some criminal street gang members were present.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.