Chattanooga's Gestapo Style Policing Was Never An Exaggeration

  • Wednesday, July 10, 2024

It's never was an "exaggeration," Chattanooga, along with many cities around the nation, did indeed adapt a Gestapo style policing during a specific 21st century period. One that had nothing to do with rising crime or making everyone feel "safe." 

It's really a false concept to explain away and justify such tactis, by saying during that period away crime was down because of brute/aggressive tactics allowed and accepted as normal police work. I have and have had family members in the field. What took place had nothing to do with making everyone feel "safe" and "taking a bite out of crime."

Reporting crime on a federal level is voluntary, and left up to the discretion of local law enforcement. They can overreport, underreport or even exaggerate or not report at all. It can come down to what the goals of police and local leadership are.  

Just leave the Gestapo style policing in the darker, evil bowels of history where it should forever remain. 

If you want examples, I'll be glad to give a few. From cops in plainclothes, driving around in a beat up old van, jumping out on citizens at stop signs, with these long military style guns pointed at them. I personally witnessed this one year while at a stop sign, heading east on 55th Street and Tennessee Avenue. The young man had pulled up to a stop sign heading west at 55th and Tennessee Avenue. When out of nowhere, an old brown raggedy van pulled up behind him, and a bunch of cops, not in uniform, burst out of the van and surrounded his car with those long rifles, normally seen at military installations or at war. 

For being outspoken, my home was often constantly being watched during that period of 21 century Chattanooga. They'd either be sitting across the street in an attempt to intimidate or drive up in front of the old homestead and just sit there, sometimes grinning/other times scowling. Of which, some of the young people in the community warned me not to try and help them, because I would just make myself a target. But being a child of the Jim Crow/segregated south, nothing much phases me anymore. Scare tactics don't work. They didn't work as a child either. None of these and other incidents took place in 20th century 1950s or prior Chattanooga. It was 21century "race-blind" Chattanooga, they were happening.

I was on my front porch one spring? summer? day (can't remember which now) when a cop was across the street at a stop sign watching my house, which wasn't at all rare. It became their normal. I'd gotten used to it. They did that often in those days. A young man in a late large late model pickup pulled up behind the police car with his headlights on. The headlights reflecting through the cops rearview mirror must've startled him, he was so intense on watching my house, and being sensitive as some cops are, caught like a deer in the headlights, it must've embarrassed him as well. That's when he exited his car and began to harass the the young black man. At some point the young man was even handcuffed. 

The young man was calling out to me to give me a number to call his parents or someone to come to the scene. Another cop car pulled up with K-9 written on the side, and there was Rin-Tin-Tin in the backseat. I had no idea who the young man was or if he lived in the area. As I went to the edge of the front porch to better hear the phone number the young man was trying to give me, the K-9 cop opened his back door and his K-9 popped his head out and the cop threatened me to not leave my front porch. I got the message that if I'd have stepped down, even one step more, the cop was going to let his K-9 loose on me. So I backed up, came into the house and brought out the hubby's old antique non-working Bell & Howell One-Nine from his college days at Tennessee Temple (he did some photography work for the college while a student there),  and pretended to be filming them. Cops like filming citizens. They just don't like being filmed by citizens. That kind of froze them at least until, I assume some other neighbor saw and heard what was going on, because the young man's family did come to the scene. 

Talk about "boots on the ground?" You ain't seen nothing yet 'til you've seen boot prints purposely left on a victim's face. 

The above is the very least of it. There's more much, much more. 

So when people claim brute, aggressive style policing works to bring down crime, they're mistaken. Breaking people down and using inhumane tactics, never works. It further erodes trust and just desensitizes those victimized by such tactics, and guarantees more violence bursting out in the immediate future. 

Brenda Washington

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