City officials said Friday that mention of Hamilton Place Mall in a gang study only related to a single incident.
Mayor Ron Littlefield said, “The reference to Hamilton Place in the Comprehensive Gang assessment apparently relates to a single isolated incident that occurred in 2011. The mall and surrounding area is well managed, carefully monitored and patrolled by both public and private security and, to put it bluntly, there is no reason to believe that Hamilton Place has a gang problem.”
City officials said, "The release of the Comprehensive Gang Assessment earlier this week has generated some concern in the community, especially the identification of areas that may have been innocent setting for illegal activity. The Hamilton Place Mall area was mentioned in the report as one of those settings. This mention arose from an isolated incident reported in 2011. This incident does not in any way portray the Hamilton Place Mall property as an area of gang activity or concern."
“There seems to be some confusion regarding a 2011 graph that indicated Hamilton Place as a “hotspot” area for gang activity,” said Gang Task Force Coordinator Boyd Patterson. “The hotspot indicator was activated because of a single gang-related incident, apparently in which two gang members robbed another gang member. Because there were zero gang crimes committed in the areas surrounding Hamilton Place that year, and the isolated incident involved three gang members, the geocoded address was deemed a “hotspot.” While accurate from a research standpoint, this designation could be easily misunderstood by the general public.
"In terms of gang crime, Hamilton Place Mall does not have a gang problem. To the contrary, the assessment data shows that Hamilton Place mall is relatively free of gang crime. Available crime data provides that at no time during the last five years has Hamilton Place experienced a gang problem."
Officials said, :Three points need to be understood:
"1) No area was excluded from the analysis. The suburbs and the inner city, poor neighborhoods and wealthy neighborhoods, Title I schools and non-Title Ischools, etc., were all subjected to the same analysis. Hamilton Place legitimately popped up on the radar because of one isolated incident. The contextual data from the other years and the fact that it was a single episode demonstrated to the Ochs Center that, for the purposes of identifying areas with true gang problems, Hamilton Place did not qualify. Accordingly, unlike the Westside, East Chattanooga, Avondale and Alton Park, there were zero recommendations from the Ochs Center regarding Hamilton Place.
"2) The Comprehensive Gang Assessment is a living document. Incorporating existing data from reliable sources and conducting subsequent research projects that drill down into the findings will further clarify exactly where the resources need to be applied. That has long been understood and was explicitly communicated on the first page of the assessment itself. Finally, the most significant point that the public needs to understand:
"3) The data overwhelmingly establishes clearly defined areas with clearly entrenched gang problems that clearly need our full attention. While nothing is perfect, the assessment gives an exceedingly high level of information about those particular affected areas. It is time to focus on how we can best use the data we have been provided."