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 <>
Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 2:25 PM
To: "" <>, "" <>
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
Center for Crime Prevention and Control
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Former Owner Of Chattanooga Low Income Housing Firm Gets 33 Months In Federal Prison

The former owner of a low income housing firm in Chattanooga was sentenced on Thursday to serve 33 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to fraud charges. Matthew John Crupi, who raised $5 million for the Urban Investment and Development (UID) firm, appeared before Judge Curtis Collier. He has until Jan. 11 to report to prison on the wire fraud conviction. Prosecutors ... (click for more)

Ferguson Given 15 Years As "Armed Career Criminal"

A Chattanooga man with a lengthy burglary record was sentenced on Thursday to serve 15 years in federal prison. Judge Curtis Collier set the sentence after finding Shannon Ferguson to be an Armed Career Criminal. Prosecutor Michael Porter said Ferguson has five convictions for aggravated burglary and three for burglary. County detectives looking to serve warrants on Ferguson ... (click for more)

Regulations As A Whole On Signal Mountain

A few years ago I was flying over Chattanooga on my way to Atlanta.  The sun had just come up and I enjoyed picking out Signal Mountain’s location, on Walden’s Ridge, in the morning light.  What was amazing was that I could not tell that a town existed under the tree canopy.  I hope that the same can be said 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  During last ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Unfortunate Sentence

There was a most unfortunate line in a recent email written to me and, in retrospect, I should not have included it in some examples of the huge response regarding the bicycle lanes now being installed on Broad Street. I’ll admit I misread the line because I feel certain I know what the writer was trying to convey. As a matter of fact, I received enough of an outcry I want to clarify ... (click for more)

Biro, Matthews Power Ooltewah To District 5-3A Volleyball Title

(Story has been updated with start time for Monday's Region 3-3A matches) CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Ooltewah grabbed the momentum. Unexpectedly lost it and then magically regained it at exactly the right time Wednesday in the District 5-3A volleyball tournament at Cleveland Middle School. Senior Alex Biro, named to the all-tournament team and most valuable player after the match, ... (click for more)

Vols Go Back To Basics In Hopes Of Slowing Bulldogs

  With Saturday's SEC showdown against Georgia now just three days away, Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones   and a select group of players spoke to the media early Wednesday afternoon: (Opening Statement) "To kind of give you an injury update on Wednesday, and a lot of this obviously will change by Saturday, but Stephen Griffin   did practice. ... (click for more)