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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, June 19, 2020

Berke forms Office of Community Resilience




Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has announced the formation of the Office of Community Resilience, which will serve as a resource within local government to help communities heal from trauma and minimize their contact with the criminal justice system.

It will provide activists, advocates, and allies with a forum to plan for a safer, stronger, more resilient Chattanooga.

The OCR envisions a city where families live in safety and prosperity, communities support themselves and each other, and systems deliver the resources people need to live the lives that they want.

“The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd shine new light on injustices that many Americans have been enduring for generations -- the catastrophic effects of racism and racial violence,” Mayor Berke says. “Night after night, by the thousands, in the streets of Chattanooga and all across the country, people are insisting that we confront some painful truths about how we invest in communities of color and reconsider what real public safety looks like.”

The OCR will combine some of the existing functions of the Office of Public Safety, the Family Justice Center, and other programs currently administered by the City, supplemented with $150,000 coming from the Office of the Chief of Police. Later this month, Mayor Berke will appoint an inaugural advisory board for this office to aid in the recruitment process for a full-time director to lead the office.

Specifically, this office will be responsible for several functions:

Social work, including supporting victims of violent crime.

Recidivism reduction programs, including assistance with felony record expungements and job training.

Support for justice-involved youth, including new mentoring and diversion initiatives.

Neighborhood-based planning, through partnerships with RPA, CDOT, the Office of Economic Development, and other departments that can assist residents with planning processes that result in visions for businesses, public spaces, and other assets that communities need to thrive.

Independent budget analysis and policy recommendations about municipal government expenditures related to public safety and law enforcement, like 911 response mapping and fees and fines for non-violent offenses.