For newly confirmed Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, it's time to take a close look at what's next for the department and the community.
Roddy shared his thoughts after the Chattanooga City Council's 8-1 vote to ratify him as Mayor Andy's Berke's pick to follow Fred Fletcher, who retired as police chief when his contract ended in early July. Roddy was one of three finalists, including Assistant Police Chief Edwin McPherson, recommended to Berke by a search committee that reviewed 49 applications for the position. Roddy has served with the department for 23 years.
Right now, it comes down to reviewing two things, Roddy said.
"It's taking stock not only of the department itself, but taking stock of what our relationships look like in certain areas of the community," Roddy said. "It's time to begin a whole lot of meetings, a whole lot of conversations and just explain who we are and what our vision looks like and make sure that lines up with the expectations of those we serve."
While Roddy's got the job, he said it won't be quite official until he's sworn in. No date for the ceremony has been set.
The council voted 9-0 in favor of a new noise ordinance for the operation of off-road vehicles on residential property. The regulations prohibit people from making more than 70 decibels of sound — about the same as a dishwasher — for “no less than 30 seconds.” The ordinance applies to dune buggies, dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and utility vehicles. This is the second and final vote for the ordinance.
"The chief of police — as well as being a police officer itself — is auspicious and it deserves the reverence that goes with that," Roddy said. "I'm looking forward to ceremoniously raising my right hand and taking the oath of office, because that is very important to me."
He said he has not made decisions as to what his commend staff will look like.
Roddy also talked about the sole vote against his confirmation, cast by Councilman Russell Gilbert.
"I'm confident it's because of a certain problem, it's a certain issue, it's a concern," Roddy said. "My responsibility as chief, as well as the responsibility of the department, is to continue those conversations, determine what those concerns are and work towards a solution. The mission hasn't changed."
After the meeting, Gilbert said he voted against Roddy because most of his constituents wanted McPherson, another long-serving veteran of the department.
"I personally feel like McPherson knows the community and that he would probably get more done with the gang situation," Gilbert said. "I did tell the new chief I would vote no and I also told him to prove me wrong. I'm man enough to tell him I'm wrong if he can prove me wrong by changing the things around our neighborhoods."
During the meeting, Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod praised McPherson and called for giving Roddy the opportunity to succeed.
"For me, cleaning it [the neighborhoods] up, that looks like McPherson," Coonrod said. "Roddy is great at administration roles and what he does. We have to give him a chance to put into place to make sure that we are going to have safer streets, and if it doesn't work that way, then we hold him accountable."
Coonrod has voiced a number of concerns she said community members have brought to her, including whether Roddy sported a white supremacist tattoo.
Last week, Roddy explained his "1*" tattoo was an international law enforcement symbol meaning "one ass to risk," which serves as a personal reminder to duty and safety.
Earlier in the day, Coonrod said she received a "disturbing phone call" about Roddy's relationship with Mike Williams, the Signal Mountain police chief and a former Chattanooga police officer.
In 2010, Maxine Cousin named Williams in a complaint filed with the United Nations Human Rights Council, claiming he was responsible for the 1983 death of her father, Wadie Suttles. Records show Suttles died from brain injuries after he jumped from a bed while in the Chattanooga City Jail.
A 2013 United States Department of Justice letter to Cousin described Suttles' death as a homicide, according to Times Free Press archives. The letter redacts the name of the person considered most likely responsible for the death. Local and federal investigations concluded no police officer or jailer caused Suttles' death.
After the meeting, Coonrod said she spoke privately to Roddy about the matter and was satisfied with what he told her.
"I have 100 percent faith in Roddy," Coonrod said.
This story was updated Aug. 23 at 12:35 p.m. with more information.