Misinformation About Lookout Mountain Police Department

Monday, November 16, 2020
I don't know the reporter who wrote about the Lookout Mountain Town Commission meeting for the Chattanoogan last week, but I assume she tried to best represent what she understood about what was said there.

However, her assertions that the Lookout Mountain Police Department has "instigated a new procedure ... of conducting field interviews" and that "officers are stopping vehicles without mountain decals" are completely erroneous. She also reported, "Cars that are stopped will also be checked for outstanding warrants" and "police are using the car decals as a tool..."

LMPD is not stopping vehicles because they don't display a community decal, and no such assertion was made in that commission meeting.
The community decals do assist officers, especially in regards to side-street parking issues and other activities like authorization to use the town recycling facilities.
 
Checking the driver of a vehicle for wants and warrants when stopped, is a standard procedure. On Lookout Mountain, such checks have recently resulted in discovery of an outstanding murder warrant for an Atlanta gang member and other aggravated felony warrants, and also have resulted in stolen vehicle recoveries. 

While "field interviews" may sound nefarious, that is how many police departments make reference to questions officers asked a driver or pedestrian. Those questions can be the result of a traffic stop due to an infraction, a vehicle or individual being reported as suspicious, or observations by a police officer. This is not a "new" procedure on Lookout Mountain - and it comports with constitutional due process. 

Field interviews occur everyday all day across the nation in urban, suburban and rural areas, and form a front line against criminal activity.

That being said, I share concerns about due process of law, and compliance by all police officers. In fact, the vast majority of police officers nationwide, dutifully observe such compliance.

Finally, I know every First Responder serving our community, and the reaction to the disinformation in the Chattanoogan article, and subsequent denigration of our emergency personnel, is completely unjustified.

For the record, here is an appropriate characterization of the vast majority of resident interactions with our First Responders.

Saturday, a friend and I were taking a Vietnam Veteran (former POW) out for breakfast. Our Veteran friend fell in his driveway and had a minor injury. Within two minutes of calling LMPD, officers, one a paramedic, responded to provide an immediate medical evaluation and assistance. Those officers, as anyone in our community who has interacted with our officers in an emergency can attest, were extraordinarily professional, courteous and kind. 

On behalf of our community and the safety of residents and visitors, I am grateful for the exceptional service of our police, fire and emergency medical First Responders.
 
Mark Caldwell


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