Residents question local leaders at "Gang Intervention" - WSMV News 4

Residents question local leaders at "Gang Intervention"

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Chattanooga's growing gang problem takes center stage Saturday in a meeting that brought state and local leaders together with community members asking when action will be taken.

We've heard a lot of talk recently about how to battle the gang problem. Saturday State Representative Tommie Brown invited anyone concerned to Howard school for a "Gang Intervention" to make a plan to start actually doing.

"Just what are the plans to get some of the violence to stop and what can we do in our community to help?" Minnie Darden said.

Minnie Darden was one of dozens asking for solutions as the TBI presented its plan that includes people like her willing to step up.

"I think we're showing today that we're here to do something. If they'll join with us I think we can make a dent in this problem," TBI Director Mark Gwin said.

The TBI showed last year's gang study with 1,200 gang members in Chattanooga, 43 documented gangs and Gangster Disciples being the largest. TBI Director Mark Gwin says that info isn't nearly enough.

"There has to be some way to track that criminal activity and track the people who are committing those crimes on a state-wide level," Gwin said.

He says he's in the process of assigning agents to work specifically at putting these gang member's info into a state-wide database to make it easier for every agency to track. He says community members need to be their eyes and ears.

"Show me something other than just throwing the net and dragging our babies into jail. What else is out there?" Representative Tommie Brown said.

Legislator Tommie Brown says she and many of the people she represents don't understand how more studies or proposed legislation by Mayor Littlefield on increasing jail time for gang members, will help.

"Today we wanted to get to the bottom of this. We have known for a long time our babies are dying. We want to know why," Rep. Brown said.

Gwin says stiffer penalties along with the TBI's tracking system will deter more from continuing down that path, or even going down it in the first place.

"I think it's important that we send a strong message out to these people that we're not going to tolerate these activities," Gwin said.

Representative Brown says she won't vote for any gang legislation, unless her voters tell her they support it. She says everyone who cares about stopping the violence needs to make themselves informed about the plans politicians and law enforcement are making and then play an active role in the ones they're behind.

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