Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher told the North Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, "Every single person in this town has value and their life has value...Every person shot was somebody's son or daughter and a community member."
He said that Mayor Andy Berke's Violence Reduction Initiative was one of the things that attracted him to the job. Chief Fletcher moved from Austin, Tex., to take the position.
He also said, "It has the best hope of success of anything we can do," calling the program "one of the most progressive in the country.
Chief Fletcher said other cities and states are modeling their programs after Chattanooga's.
So far, he said 58 people formerly involved in violence have come forward to turn their lives around and have been placed in jobs.
He said, "We did not get here overnight and we're not going to get out of here overnight...but every single incident you get rid of is somebody's son or daughter who is not a victim."
Chief Fletcher said that making connection with people is the only way to get through.
Of Chattanooga, he said, "I see a city that was one of the most polluted cities in the country voted one of the greenest cities by the 1990s....This town solves problems."
He said he wants the police force to be more involved in the community so that people can have more positive interactions with police officers. In the future, he said he would like to create a type of public safety class so that officers would also be able to interact with high school students.
Many officers are also now taking Spanish courses so that they can better serve the Hispanic population in Chattanooga.
He said, "We're committed to making everybody feel safe no matter where they're from."