The City Council is considering whether to approve a new two-year contract of up to $600,000 with Father to the Fatherless for the Violence Reduction Initiative.
Council members had a number of questions during a lengthy hearing on Tuesday afternoon, but Police Chief David Roddy said the program has helped bring a 35 percent reduction in gun-related shootings and a 16 percent drop in homicides.
He said it has meant "24 less parents" that police have to deliver the message to that their child has been hit by a bullet.
Chief Roddy said, in addition to the main program aim of working directly with youth deemed to be causing the most violence in Chattanooga, it will have a component of working directly with youth in danger of being lost to gangs.
He said one worker would be assigned no more than 10 youth, and he would have them tie into the large number of local social providers.
Councilman Russell Gilbert said he had tried repeatedly to get reports on results of the VRI program.
Councilwoman Carol Berz said she loves the concept of the effort, but said it is important that those being paid by taxpayers to work with youth be properly credentialed.
Councilman Anthony Byrd, who oversees the council's public safety committee, said when he was running for office many people told him that the VRI was not working and was a waste of taxpayer funds.
He said Chief Roddy and Father to the Fatherless director Troy Rogers had been trying to persuade him that was incorrect.
The main aim of the program is to offer help to the most violent youth, while telling them they will be monitored by multiple law enforcement agencies if they don't change their behavior.
The vote on the contract is set for next Tuesday night.