Larry Henry says anti-violence task force making progress in Chattanooga

Larry Henry says anti-violence task force making progress in Chattanooga

November 3rd, 2011 by Ansley Haman in News

Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry

Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.


  • Commissioners voted to hold the March special election primary for District 3 on newly drawn political lines, which will fold about 700 registered voters into District 3.

One Hamilton County official said efforts to tackle local violence, particularly gang-related, is finally gaining legs.

But the commission, which is part of those efforts, did not act on the problem Wednesday.

At the commission's regular meeting, Chairman Larry Henry said violence affects more than just the inner city.

"I think instead of a lot of talk going on we're starting to get some legs," he said.

Last week, Commissioner Fred Skillern proposed calling for outside help from a state or federal task force to address gangs. This week, he said a resolution would be ready to discuss in the commission's Nov. 10 agenda session.

At Wednesday's meeting, County Mayor Jim Coppinger gave the commission details about a meeting Monday of a local anti-violence task force that includes Sheriff Jim Hammond, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd.

"It's important that the public knows this is being addressed," Coppinger said. "Obviously, we don't want the bad guys to know too much about what we're doing."

Commissioner Mitch McClure, who heads the commission's Security and Corrections Committee, is on the local anti-violence task force. Adding another commissioner to that panel would require that the meetings be made public to avoid potential Sunshine Law violations, Coppinger said.

Commissioner Warren Mackey, who held a public meeting last month to field concerns about perceived gang-turf warfare and the role of city recreation centers in preventing gang recruitment, said he would not attend the meetings.

"These people are experts," Mackey said. "I'm going to stay in my lane and support them."

"One thing the city would really welcome is if the county would completely fund the sheriff's request for additional funds to address this issue of crime in Hamilton County, in particular the funding for [school resource officers] in county schools," said city spokesman Richard Beeland.

Commissioner Chester Bankston said Monday he wants to make sure the sheriff has what he needs to prevent violence such as the multiple-victim shootings of the past two weeks.

On the night of Oct. 23, a man clad in black opened fire with an assault rifle as people sat outside homes in the 1900 block of Walker Street. Four people were wounded and one was killed.