Chattanooga police chief: Violence up in September, down compared to 2021

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Police chief Celeste Murphy speaks during a press conference on violence reduction on Wednesday, September 14, 2022.


Although there's been an uptick in violence this month, Chattanooga police say violent crime, shootings and homicides are still lower this year compared to 2021.

Police Chief Celeste Murphy told reporters during a news conference Wednesday that her department is renewing its efforts to manage those numbers, which also saw an increase at the beginning of the summer.

According to violent crime data shared with local news outlets, Chattanooga witnessed 118 shootings in 2021 through September and 26 homicides. As of Sept. 13, police have reported 57 shootings this year and 18 homicides.

The same data indicates that there were 3,843 total homicides, aggravated assaults, simple assaults, robberies, forcible sex offenses and kidnappings through September 2021. As of Sept. 13, there have been 3,434 such reports in 2022. Simple assaults make up the bulk of those numbers: 1,992 in 2022 and 2,154 in 2021.

(READ MORE: Group of Brainerd High School students say shootings make them feel unsafe, numb, helpless)

Through Sept. 11, Murphy said, there have been 12 reported shooting incidents this month. Two of those were accidental, and nine remain active investigations. There has been an arrest in one case: A robbery in the 100 block of Talley Road.

"The majority of the shooting incidents involved individuals who had ongoing issues with one another," Murphy said. "Some of the shootings are gang-related, and please know that we are making every effort to be transparent. When these incidents are gang-related and it does not jeopardize the investigations, we'll disclose that to you and the details as much as we can."

With the exception of increases in June (five) and August (three), the number of homicides this year has remained fairly stable, Murphy said. September is currently at the monthly average of two. Shootings increased towards the middle of the year, with the highest also being in June and August. September is currently above the monthly average.

"As you know, crime trends do fluctuate, and through the analysis, we've been able to assess the times of year, the times of day and the days of the week that we typically see significant incidents of increases in violent crimes," Murphy said. "We use this information for allocating manpower, specific details and maintaining normal operations."

The city launched an initiative over the summer to deter violent crime and will continue to do so throughout the year, she said. Officials have also set up programming in collaboration with local civic groups to engage young people in productive activities.

(READ MORE: How can Chattanooga prevent more shootings? The answer may be early intervention.)

"We're going to continue that," she said. "That's going to expand and grow for the coming times."

She added that the department will be looking at collaborating with high schools in the city limits to come up with programming during the school year.

"We want to have two sides to fighting violent crime, and that's the preventative side and the enforcement side," she said, "and right now, I think we're doing pretty good in both."

Murphy encourages residents with information about criminal activity to call 423-643-5100 or submit a tip through the Atlas One app.

"Your input does matter," she said. "A lot of these crimes that we've dealt with have come from tips that we've received from the community, so we can't do it without them."

(READ MORE: Chattanooga mayor releases roadmap for addressing gun violence)

In late July, Mayor Tim Kelly's office released a roadmap for addressing violent crime in Chattanooga. That development came after a high-profile shooting on McCallie Avenue in June that resulted in three deaths and 14 injuries.

Starting in early June, the department began placing additional officers on patrol in parts of town that have witnessed recent spikes in crime. More officers were also placed in the department's real-time intelligence center to help with rapid response to large crowds on city streets.

Murphy said her department is taking steps to prevent violent acts before they occur.

"We've been doing excellent through all of this: Before the uptick, and we're going to continue after this uptick," she said. "I'm very, very confident that we'll get through this storm that we saw at the beginning of the summer."

Contact David Floyd at dfloyd@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6249. Follow him on Twitter @flavid_doyd.