Chief Roddy Says It Is Getting Harder To Retain Police Officers; City Council Takes Small Step In Process Leading To Wider Recruitment Area

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy on Tuesday told members of the City Council that more and more officers are leaving the ranks of the city police.

He said just a couple of years ago an average of just over three officers left the force for reasons other than retirement in a month. Now he said it is up to 5-6, with as many as eight a month retiring.

Chief Roddy said, "It's a difficult time to be a police officer. Many who are leaving us are getting out of law enforcement altogether."

He was making a pitch to do away with the current requirement that officers must live in the state of Tennessee.  

He said, "I can recruit somebody who lives in Memphis, but not someone from Catoosa County."

A motion passed 7-1 to allow the city attorney to seek to have the Brown vs. City of Chattanooga opinion altered in Federal Court. The ruling changed the city's form of government to allow more representation by black council members. Some of its wording restricted city police hiring from outside the state.  

Chief Roddy said the department is making progress in minority recruitment, with the most recent academy being the most diverse. He said the move to reach out to North Georgia and North Alabama would not hurt that effort.

He said some minorities living in that section might prefer working for the city police rather than police departments near where they live.

Councilman Russell Gilbert had objections, saying, "There are very few African Americans living in North Georgia and North Alabama."

He said the move "could lead to less opportunities for African Americans here."

Councilman Demetrus Coonrod said it is because of the Brown decision "that many of us are able to be up here."

She said a main problem with inner city residents wanting to become police officers is that many have a negative image of police.

She added that is not the case with her five-year-old daughter, saying she witnessed white, male officers trying to save her daddy's life after he was shot. She said the daughter is very friendly to officers and wants to become a police officer.

Both council members said low pay is another prime reason for police and fire recruitment and retention problems.

Councilman Gilbert, who was in his last meeting on the council, cast the only no vote.


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