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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Chattanooga police chief David Roddy speaks with members of the media during a press conference at the corner of S. Willow Street and E. 18th Street in Chattanooga on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

I hope new Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly can find a way to work with Chattanooga police Chief David Roddy and that the posturing and whispers during the election process were just that.

Because the person I know who knows policing the best says Roddy is the man for the job.

That comes from Roddy's former boss and former Chattanooga Police Department Chief Fred Fletcher, who wrote this on social media last month: "(Kelly's vote of confidence during the election) is a great thing because Chattanooga has the best Chief in the country in David Roddy (certainly way better than the dude that came before him)."

And somewhere in the immediate future, as Kelly and Roddy find common ground to attack the most pressing issue for our city, maybe they should schedule a conference call with the leaders of Newark. Heck, I've even heard good things about this Zoom dohickey.

That's right, in arguably the best police story you likely have not heard, the 1,100 officers in the largest city in New Jersey found a way to decrease overall crime, according to a department spokesman and New Jersey News 12.

They did it without a single officer firing a single shot.

Read that last line again.

Yes, it's an almost impossible goal that takes a slew of lucky breaks and turns and is borderline implausible from the start. Heck, there was an officer-involved shooting in Newark in early January. But the simple fact of fighting crime and not firing a bullet is worth examination and emulation, no?

And how little did we know about this? In a time when every cop story feels like a tragedy and leads national news and sites, this one should have been met with thunderous applause. It did generate a fair amount of attention on social media over the weekend when Yahoo.com picked up the story. But NJ.com originally reported the story in January of this year.

Why no one noticed is not as important a question as how can others follow along.

Newark's amazing 2020 was far from an overnight sensation. The police department was federally mandated to undergo complete reform after a Department of Justice decree in 2014 after multiple issues were cited, included a proclivity for violence and racial bias.

And while Chattanooga has a ton going for it, the city's crime numbers overshadow our many assets. In 2020, according to FBI numbers, our crime rate was more than 167% above the national average, according to HomeSnacks.com, a site that ranks cities, counties and states across several metrics. It listed Chattanooga as the fifth most-dangerous city in Tennessee.

So it's not like we've got this thing all figured out. Exploring every option seems practical.

Better training and community involvement have been factors for Newark's bullet blackout of 2020. Both seem to be goals high among Kelly's priorities and are avenues Roddy has supported.

These strategies are a far cry from the counterintuitive and counterproductive protest calls to defund police.

This kind of overhaul and the ability to find ways to do better policing is not a racial issue as much as it is a human issue, for all of us.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. And not having to reinvent the wheel often saves time and money. So gentlemen, pick up the phone. It's the next best thing to being there.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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