Kelly Administration Releases "Roadmap To End Gun Violence In Chattanooga"

  • Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Kelly administration on Thursday released its Roadmap to End Gun Violence in Chattanooga, designed "to both stop the current cycle of gun violence and prevent it from returning in the long-term.""

The plan includes a series of community engagement sessions to review the roadmap, gather input, and coordinate collective action across the city - "collaboration that is key to ending Chattanooga’s gun violence crisis."

Mayor Kelly said, “Gun violence has become an epidemic in Chattanooga and across the country, and its effects are felt far beyond the group of people immediately involved. This is a problem that Chattanooga has been struggling with every summer for many years now, and our children are hurting, families are grieving, and people are fearful and frustrated.

"We must unite and take action - and the Roadmap to End Gun Violence in Chattanooga provides a path forward for our city to do just that.

"The roadmap includes immediate actions as well as long-term investments to both stop the current cycle of violence on city streets and address the deep-rooted issues that cause cultures of violence to emerge in the first place. This model of intervention and prevention - intervening to stop the current cycle of violence and investing in long-term initiatives to prevent it from returning - serves as the foundation of the roadmap.

"Many of these actions are already underway. For example, the Chattanooga Police Department’s Focused Deterrence Initiative, which has provided an enhanced police presence on weekends in areas of town that statistically have been experiencing a spike in crime, was launched on June 10 and has resulted in 30 arrests and the seizure of 39 illegal guns, effectively helping de-escalate multiple potentially violent situations.

"At the same time, the roadmap’s long-term investments will address the root causes of gun violence, including lack of opportunity and lack of access to resources and support, especially among youth and families in traditionally underserved neighborhoods.

“I want to be clear - this roadmap is not just a plan for the future. Our city will not tolerate people who feel they are beyond the law, and I am committed to ensuring that those who commit acts of violence are held accountable.

“Thanks to the hard work of the Chattanooga Police Department and our state and federal partners, suspects have been arrested in both of the mass shootings that occurred at the beginning of the summer, and countless other potentially violent situations have been stopped before shots could be fired.

“But ultimately, gun violence is not just a law enforcement issue, it’s a public health issue and a community issue, which is why our Roadmap also includes long-term prevention initiatives to help our most vulnerable residents long before they ever feel the need to pick up a gun.

“Much of this work has already begun as part of the One Chattanooga plan, and this week, our City Council approved the use of $3.7 million in American Rescue Plan funds for additional community-rooted public safety and youth engagement programs to empower young people and build a safer future for Chattanooga. While it can take years to see this scale of city-wide transformation, I am confident we can come together as a community to end our epidemic violence.”

To ensure the actions in the roadmap are coordinated across city departments and with the community, Mayor Kelly has appointed Chris Sands, BS, M.A., Director of Community Engagement for the city of Chattanooga, as the Interim Executive Director of Community Safety and Gun Violence Prevention.

He said, "With a background in leadership studies, Sands brings a wealth of experience in community interventions, team building, and community coalition building throughout the nonprofit, faith, and private sectors. He will guide the implementation of the roadmap and lead ongoing engagement and collaboration with the community, coordinating cityand community-wide action in common cause."

Mr. Sands said, “Through my years of service in the community working with some of Chattanooga’s most vulnerable families, I have seen firsthand how gun violence can rip families and communities apart.

“We must come together as Chattanoogans to put a stop to this senseless and tragic violence, and I am honored to serve our city as Interim Executive Director for Community Safety and Gun Violence Prevention to help make that happen.”

This week, the city kicked off a new community engagement series to invite input on the roadmap and coordinate collaboration on the actions to prevent gun violence in the long-term, including youth mentorship initiatives and wraparound services to support vulnerable families. The meetings will allow the city and participating organizations to discuss best practices, greatest needs, and ways to collaborate.

Police Chief Celeste Murphy said, “Through focused deterrence efforts, our enhanced presence on the streets and in the Real Time Intelligence Center, and ongoing engagement with state and federal partners, we are doing everything possible to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the wrong hands.

“While these actions are critical to stopping violent crime, we also have to support our young people and provide them with opportunity in the long-run, and that’s where partnership with the community becomes essential.”

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