Crime Prevention Expert Helping City Says Times Free Press Actions "Undermining Violence Prevention Efforts And Are Extremely Dangerous"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A crime prevention expert helping Mayor Andy Berke carry out a local High Point Initiative said in an email to officials of the Chattanooga Times Free Press that interviewing and giving the full names of those cooperating in the effort is "extremely dangerous."

David M. Kennedy, an official of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control, said the newspaper's action "are undermining Chattanooga’s violence prevention efforts."

Times Fress Press officials, in the Sunday paper, defended their coverage, saying that the public had a right to know details of the crime fighting effort.

Here is the Kennedy email:

From: David Kennedy <dakennedy@jjay.cuny.edu>
Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 2:25 PM
To: "jtaylor@timesfreepress.com" <jtaylor@timesfreepress.com>, "agerber@timesfreepress.com" < agerber@timesfreepress.com>
Subject: The Times Free Press and the Chattanooga Violence Reduction Initiative

Dear Ms. Gerber and Mr. Taylor,

Over the last several days, in its coverage of the launch of Chattanooga’s Violence Reduction Initiative, the Chattanooga Times Free Press has – against our advice to the city, the city’s guidance to the media, standard national practice, and all common sense – sent two reporters and a photographer to the first group member call-in, stopped and attempted to interview those called in as they left the event, and most recently printed their full names.  The paper’s actions are undermining Chattanooga’s violence prevention efforts and are in fact extremely dangerous.  

·      Those called in are on probation and parole and are required to attend as a condition of their court supervision.  It is hugely inappropriate, and a violation of trust, to put them in a position where that exposes them to media.  The press should no more be there than it should shoulder into a one-on-one office visit between a probationer and his probation officer.

·      Supervisees who know they may end up on camera and named in the paper are less likely to attend future call-ins.  They and their groups will not hear the warnings and offers of support the city is delivering and are more likely to be sanctioned for noncompliance.  The Chattanooga Times Free Press is enhancing the chances that these individuals will be hurt and go to jail.

·      Street offenders (and many others in their communities) tend to lump the outside world into one large “them.”  It is beyond their comprehension that the city and the police cannot stop reporters from interrogating them, asking them their names or sticking a camera in their faces.  The paper is undercutting the trust in the authorities the Violence Reduction Initiative is carefully designed to produce.

·      Street offenders know only one situation in which their peers are brought into conversations with law enforcement and leave free men: when they snitch.  Snitches get killed.  The Chattanooga Times Free Press is putting the men who chose to attend the call-in at enormous personal risk.

I trust that these consequences were unintended, and that your organization will not produce them again going forward.

David M. Kennedy

_____________
David M. Kennedy
Director
Center for Crime Prevention and Control
John Jay College of Criminal Justice



Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADAMS, MICHELLE DESHAUN  113 GOODSON AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 28 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED LICENSE REGISTRATION, IMPROPER DISPLAY OF PLATES --- ALLEN, CHRISTOPHER LAMOND  4410 MIDLAND PIKE CHATTANOOGA, 37411  Age at Arrest: 49 years ... (click for more)

School Board Approves Moving Forward On $290,000 Equity Consulting Contract

The County School Board voted 8-1 on Thursday night in favor of a $290,000 contract with consultants to help with an equity study. Officials said there will be no cost to the school system,but it was not clear who will be paying. Board member David Testerman asked, "How do we know who's going to provide the funding?"  Supt. Bryan Johnson indicated he is confident that ... (click for more)

Speaking Of A Cove

Mr. Sole Commissioner Whitfield,   I live in  a cove in western most Chattanooga. My back yard is woods. My front yard is woodland too. My neighbors and I had chance to voice our disagreement in 1996 to the proposed sale of a portion of the farm that dominated this cove and we did. There weren’t very many of us. One member of the group that listened to ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: 'Don't Dare Endorse Me!'

When Joe Smith, a member of the Hamilton County School Board, met with officials of the UnifiEd political action committee on Tuesday, his instructions to his somber listeners were very specific. He told the leaders of the now-tainted education non-profit group. “Do not endorse me. I extended the courtesy of answering your questions … I am eager to do the right thing. But I am saying ... (click for more)

Baylor Wins D-II State Baseball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Baylor School baseball team has been on a tear these past couple of weeks as they’ve been averaging double figures in runs scored and base hits. It's become quite a winning combination. That trend continued here at MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field on Thursday afternoon in Baylor’s biggest and most important game of the season. Facing the Memphis University ... (click for more)

Baylor Wins Fourth Straight State Softball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Baylor Lady Red Raiders and the GPS Bruisers have had some classic battles on the softball field in recent years, many times in the championship game of the Division II-Class AA portion of the state tournament. They met again on Thursday night on Starplex Field No. 3. Baylor won for the third time this year, but there’s really no way to adequately ... (click for more)