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Chattanooga councilwoman shares info about private meeting with gang members

Chattanooga police and Mayor Andy Berke are determined to reduce street violence like the fatal shooting on Rossville Blvd a month ago. (Image: WTVC)

The Chattanooga Police have used gang call-ins for years as a way to convince participants to turn away from violence.

For the sake of safety, and to encourage gang members to show up, police have insisted that access is restricted.

A few news reporters are allowed in to observe, but police are so concerned about confidentiality, they have to abide by strict rules:

  • No camera or cell phone use
  • Everyone has to stay in their seats
  • No identifying gang members
  • No interviews

For the call-in on Thursday night, however, Chattanooga Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod invited the public, posting the time and location of the meeting on her Facebook page Wednesday morning.

When we asked Coonrod about the post today, she said that she had done nothing wrong and was just trying to keep her constituents informed. Beyond that, she declined to comment.

The Mayor's office made the following statement on the matter:

"It has been general practice to maintain a level of security and privacy at call-ins both to encourage participants to attend and ensure privacy of their identities"

We spoke with Councilman Ken Smith today. He said he didn't want to comment specifically, but he did question whether Coonrod had been asked not to share the VRI information.

Thursday night's meeting took place without incident.

The city says it will be sure to communicate the privacy guidelines more clearly in the future.


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