Big Brothers/ Sisters embrace bramble

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UTC student Chris Whitehead, left, reads with his Little Brother associate, a boy named Jalanden. (Photo UTC blog)

A local charity that cares about character development is allying itself with a city police department that exhibits a strong culture of deceit and aggression.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7

But the unfortunately named Bigs in Blue program will have limited damage because students in Big Brothers and Big Sisters will get officer exposure one hour a month.

“Bigs in Blue is a meaningful way for CPD officers to be part of a child’s life,” says police chief David Roddy, “providing guidance, friendship and building relationships that positively affect the life of that child, our community and our officers.”

The department is plagued with abusive arrest patterns, perjury as acceptable conduct (Hanson Melvin and Rochelle Gelpin cases), racially conscious arrest practices that keep black neighborhoods in fear, and decades of enforcement of state transportation statutes upon people not involved in commercial use of the roadways.

Mayor Andy Berke, who oversees the department, has signaled that he wants to at least slow the militarization of the agency and official use of gunfire among the 500 officers in his service.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program envisions the officers’ connecting with boys and girls 6 to 18 and providing what a press release called emotional support, motivation and help improve the student’s self-worth.

The program begins in 2019 and is funded by an Ooltewah nonprofit organization, the Tucker Foundation.

Says Theresa Varos, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga: “I cannot think of a more important time than now for these officers to connect to Chattanooga’s youth.”

“The impact will be felt for years to come.

The move comes at a time when the Hamilton County sheriff’s office is considering putting more armed officers in public schools to ward off the threat of mass murder, officers who will have much time on their hands to interact with students.

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