Assistant District Attorney Boyd Patterson said Monday he has decided not to run for district attorney. He said he will back Neal Pinkston, the executive assistant to DA Bill Cox, instead.
Mr. Patterson said, "I had a lot of support, but I have spoken with Neal Pinkston and he assures me that dealing with gangs will be a top priority for him."
Prior to his decision, it appeared that two members of the DA's office might be opposing one another in the election next year for the right to replace Mr. Cox, who is retiring.
In a speech to the Pachyderm Club, Mr. Patterson said he is "passionate" about the issue of dealing with gangs.
Mr. Patterson headed the Gang Task Force under Mayor Ron Littlefield. However, the task force was disbanded when Mayor Andy Berke took office.
Mr. Patterson said local leaders "need to come together" to deal with a rising tide of gang activity here "or Chattanooga will become the next North Miami or the next Chicago."
He said ruthless Mexican war lords are increasingly forging ties with U.S. inner-city gangs.
Mr. Patterson said there are tools available to deal with gangs, including setting up gang-free zones and using the anti-gang RICO statute.
He told the club, "Using RICO, we can take out 30 gang members at a time."