Cooper: Trend will clarify city safety

Cooper: Trend will clarify city safety

January 13th, 2018 by Clint Cooper in Opinion Free Press

Although Chattanooga saw a record number of homicides for recent years in 2017, total shooting incidents, total people shot, shootings involving gang members and non-fatal shootings involving gang members all were down last year.

All but the first number are positive, should be celebrated and rightly might be attributed to a number of factors.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said the numbers are down because "we've reduced those incidents" that might involve gangs. Chattanooga Police Department personnel point to investments in community building and in technology.

Together, they've resulted in more guns seized, more pertinent information from community members, more digital eyes on difficult areas and better cases being put together that result in more convictions.

But can it be a trend? That is the pertinent question.

Only four short years ago, Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel told the Times Free Press his hospital was in dire straights. It had lost a combined $36 million from fiscal 2008 through fiscal 2013, had swallowed $14 million in state and federal insurance reimbursement cuts, was expecting to see its amount of uncompensated care rise to $92 million, and had frozen paid time off for 4,000 employees.

For years before that, the hospital had been on a roller-coaster — in the black, in the red, in the black, in the red

But by the end of 2014, Erlanger had turned itself around and has remained financially solid since.

That's the type of trend, where it concerns crime, we all want to see in Chattanooga.

While random, crime-of-passion homicides may occur where law enforcement has no reason to expect anything untoward, Berke and police should continue to concentrate where their efforts made a difference in 2017 in helping lower the shooting numbers and gang-related shooting numbers.

If those lower numbers continue in 2018 and 2019 and 2020, a corner likely will have been turned toward a new normal.

Berke, by completing a promise to go up to 500 sworn officers in the city, and police, by setting up a new gun unit, by focusing on location-based investigations and by broadening community engagement and training, would like to make it happen.

"You can't have everybody everywhere," said Sgt. Josh May, head of the police department's anti-gang violence efforts. "We don't have any crystal balls that say this guy is going to kill this person on this night."

Maybe not, but if the downward crime trends continue, officials will know they're on the right track.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315