Well, now that Fred Fletcher has opted for mobile and fixed cameras to be placed in entry and/or exit points of high crime areas, I guess this will free up his already lax day to continue to be a mouthpiece for “community and police relations/involvement” that isn’t working.
All this decision does is illustrate his unwillingness to hire and/or place additional officers in these areas instead. In other words, the cameras will do the job he and his department are sworn to do.
How long will it be before he requests cameras all over the city so that the entire department can be let go and a dozen or so people can be hired to monitor cameras?
I have absolutely no problem with the men and women in blue who put their lives on the line daily. For that, we thank you. The problem continues to be the incompetent leadership from where these officers must take orders.
Fred Fletcher came from Houston, Texas to Chattanooga. I suggest that it is time that we send him back. My assumption is that Houston wouldn’t want him back either. Therefore, until he can be replaced, we must attempt to survive under the “leadership” of a man who cannot, at least from all the news of shootings, gang related activity, rapes, burglaries, robberies, etc., make the slightest improvement in the safety and security of Chattanooga.
I, unlike so many others who offer opinions, did my research before sending a letter to Governor Bill Haslam asking for the assistance of the National Guard and the enforcement of martial law be enforced until Fred Fletcher can get a better hold on the crime and violence in Chattanooga. In the letter I sent to Governor Haslam, I cited 52 instances, within less than 30 days, of criminal activity within the city boundaries.
I am further intrigued as to how Fred Fletcher addressed Carol Berz about privacy issues. According to the information provided in this website’s article, Fletcher said those had been addressed. He said, "You are on camera any time you enter any building in Chattanooga.” Really? How does he know this? Has he physically visited every building in Chattanooga and verified the possession and location of such stated cameras? I doubt it. Does his widely assumed statement include personal residences, churches and more? If it does not, his statement is entirely false. It is my opinion that if one portion of his false, his entire premise with regards to cameras is false, as well. If his statement did not include personal residences, churches, etc., then it is my suggestion that he more carefully choose his wording before speaking. Speaking before having all the facts does nothing but demean his authenticity as our current chief of police.
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So now we have the news that the Chattanooga Stasi, otherwise known as the Chattanooga Police Department, will be using fixed and mobile cameras to "capture" license plate numbers as free citizens travel about the city, noting their locations at various times of the day. Chief Fletcher says that this is no big deal, and that, hey, you're on camera every time you enter a building in Chattanooga. Leaving aside the patent falsehood of that statement, there is a huge difference between owners of a private property monitoring their lobby or a camera in a public building and the police monitoring the whereabouts of free citizens traversing the public roads and highways.
I would remind the public that an effective police state first requires an effective surveillance state and that right now we are installing technology that would be the envy of East Germany, all in the name of "catching the bad guys".
Well Chief, I agree with you on that one, you do need to do a better job catching the bad guys.
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One hundred and thirty-two shootings and 32 homicides in 2016. 119 shootings and 30 homicides in 2015. Those are the facts. It appalls me that instead of supporting those trying to drive those numbers down, Mr. Petarra and Munger have instead decided to turn their attention on attacking the guy in charge of doing just that. Chief Fletcher (who is from Austin, Texas...not Houston) has made overwhelming improvements within the CPD since his arrival. Most of this is working more efficiently with what he was given to work with and making strides getting the CPD up to par technologically with other departments its size.
Mr. Munger, of course fixed cameras aren't "the" solution to crime. There is no one solution. You have to attack those who prey on others at their most vulnerable times from different angles. Fixed cameras are a tool that combined with other methods, assist in solving crimes. From homicides to home invasions, a victim description of a suspect vehicle is key. Putting said vehicle in that location during the time a crime committed is a plus and that is what these cameras will do. The CPD is nearly 85 officers short of what they are budgeted for. This is for an array of reasons (pay being the most obvious to lack of desire due to the current climate in policing a close second) that are not the fault of the chief. Officers are a finite resource and cannot be everywhere when a crime is committed. Utilizing technology to assist where they cannot be is just smart business.
As for the go to "Nazi" comparison made by Mr. Petarra, the played out "police state" excuse has run its course. Legally, you have no right to privacy as you "travel" the roads..remember driving is not a right but a privilege. I understand that since you live on Signal Mountain, you have no clue what some communities in this city are currently going through in regards to violence, but I assure you that they welcome any type of solution the CPD can come up with. Every family member of a victim or a murder or shooting that could be solved is welcoming this technology.
In closing, you either want crime to go down or not. As the criminals utilize technology to commit these crimes against people, it is only natural that the ones who keep us safe use technology to not only keep up, but surpass the criminal element at how good they do their jobs. I have talked to Chief Fletcher on numerous occasions and he wants more cops on the streets more than anyone, however, they, just like technology, are just a tool in the large tool belt that encompasses crime fighting. If this isn't your idea of solutions, like I referenced before, the CPD is about 85 officers short and could use some help. Chattanooga.gov will get you started.
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I recognized that throughout your opinion piece you were sure to tell everyone how you have done your research and how speaking without facts demeans authenticity. The problem is that your statement doesn't have much authenticity when you don't even know which city Chief Fletcher came from. Just for the record he came from Austin, TX...not Houston. I might suggest doing just a tad bit more homework before you become so critical.
I really have to laugh at the comment of Chief Fletcher having a "lax day". You will be hard pressed to find that man behind a desk. As a matter of fact it might even be hard to find the man in the building. I don't know that this man knows what "bankers hours" are and can often be seen working well into the evening after everyone has gone for the day. There is nothing "lax" about what he does and any assertion of such is just plain ignorance.
I would also recommend that you do some actual fact checking and research about what RTIC (Real Time Intelligence Center) and not just about throwing some fixed and mobile cameras up around town. The basics is that the cameras allow for a "force multiplier", essentially giving police faster access to when crime occurs. What most people don't realize is that when a crime happens is that there are delays in the process. For instance, from the time a person witnesses or is a victim of a crime, there is a delay in making the call to 911, then there comes the actual time for the call and the dispatcher to process the information and then get proper assets to the scene. The RTIC allows for faster data and better response in some of the most affected areas in the city.
As a community we are very lucky to have this piece of technology; many other bigger cities have opted for this type of technology with a great deal of success. This is not a way to take away police officers, and if you would have done some more research you would have found that the city of Chattanooga is basically running back to back to back police academies. Chief Fletcher and Mayor Berke are putting more police officers on the street with better equipment and technology than ever before, but yet there will always be the negative people that stand on the outside looking in trying to pass judgment.
Mr. Munger, I would like to extend my recommendation for you to please come and join the Citizens Academy, which runs once or twice a year. This is a great opportunity for all citizens to get a glimpse and better understanding of what this department endures on a daily basis. This is a first hand, up close and personal account from the men and women that do this every day. This will also be a better way to clear up any ideas that you may or may not have about Chief Fletcher and his staff.
Inv. Curtis Penney
Chattanooga Police Department