Mixed Confidence in Leaders' Response to Downtown Crime
Half of survey respondents are on board with recent actions to boost downtown safety, but a third aren't there yet
Just over half of Power Poll Chattanooga members are persuaded that actions by city and county elected leaders in response to the Sept. 28 death of a well-known Chattanooga businessman will quell crime in downtown areas.
And half of poll respondents said these actions can positively influence public perception of crime and public safety in the all-important business and tourism core of the city.
Since the shooting, which took place outside Patten Towers on 11th Street near Market Street, officials have heard privately and publicly from business owners, homeowners and others concerned about public safety. County commission and city council members have heard about it; both Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly and county Mayor Weston Wamp have heard about it. Sheriff Austin Garrett and Police Chief Celeste Murphy have heard about it.
Marketplace Plans for 2024: What you need to know
BlueCross offering new plans with lower prices
For those who purchase health insurance on their own through the federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace®, it’s time to start exploring your options for health care coverage.
Marketplace enrollment opens Nov. 1 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2024. BlueCross is offering new network options for many Tennesseans that can save them money.
2024 Marketplace Plan Highlights
Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1, 2023, through Jan. 15, 2024, so it’s time to consider your Marketplace plan options. This impacts anyone who purchases health insurance on their own and isn’t eligible for Medicare. It’s also an opportunity for those who have lost or received notice of losing access to TennCare (Medicaid) to find affordable coverage.
Highlights of our 2024 plans include:
- BlueCross’ lowest price network (Blue Network ESM) is now available in Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis.
- Existing plans will see an average rate increase of 2.7%.
- Every Marketplace plan includes $0 virtual care.
- We’ll have the lowest priced Silver plan in the Knoxville and Chattanooga regions – and the second lowest in the Memphis and East Central regions.
- BlueCross will have the lowest priced Bronze plan in the Knoxville and Chattanooga regions.
Network E Offers Lower Rates
Network E offers rates that are around 18% lower than plans with Blue Network SSM. It’s available to members in Nashville and Memphis, and now Chattanooga, thanks to a new partnership with Erlanger Health System. In addition to providing a more budget-friendly option for Chattanooga residents, the Network E expansion gives members access to more providers when they travel within the state.
BlueCross Expands No-Cost Virtual Care
BlueCross is committed to offering access to high-quality care that’s quick, convenient and affordable. Through their individual and small group plans, BlueCross members can talk to a doctor day or night – at no cost. They have access to a wide range of specialists, including dermatologists, licensed therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. They can even select a primary care physician with our virtual care provider.
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Our members can earn rewards in the form of gift cards for completing a personal health assessment and engaging in healthy activities, such as being physically active and getting a flu shot and an annual wellness exam. New for 2024: Certain cancer screenings, diabetes management activities and participation in the Healthy Maternity program will contribute to the rewards. And members can earn up to $400 in annual rewards, compared to $100 last year.
BlueCross Available to Help Tennesseans Shop and Enroll
For help selecting a plan, you can call us at 1-888-995-7786. You can also reach out to a certified application counselor, enrollment assistor or licensed broker or agent. If you receive federal premium subsidies to help pay for coverage, visit healthcare.gov to update your application and see how much financial help you qualify for.
Kelly recently announced that the police department would increase patrols downtown, and the Sheriff’s Office assigned four deputies and a sergeant to help out. Commissioners approved $180,000 (from hotel-motel tax revenues) to pay for the overtime that will result. In addition, Kelly, who is setting up a public safety commission, met with Patten Towers property managers about ways to beef up security at the high-rise building that is home to low-income residents, seniors and the disabled.
This month’s Power Poll asked, “Do you think plans to boost police presence in downtown, increased video surveillance and creation of a public safety commission will be effective in curtailing crime?”
Just over half — 53% — said “yes” while 18% said “no.”
Almost a third — 29% — indicated they are not sure.
These responses closely mirrored those of the second question: “Will these strategies be effective in altering public perception of crime in the business/tourism core of the city?,” to which 52% said “yes;” 14% said “no;” and 34% said they were not sure.
Power Pollers also were asked to offer advice to elected officials on how “to lead on the issue of public safety.” Respondents didn’t hold back (and some blew past the 25-word limit!). Many respondents noted that more police presence is essential to deterring crime and improving the public perception that people are and will be safe. Here is a sampling of the 112 responses:
“Don’t focus as much on the perception of being safe, but more on the reality of safe.”
“Work collaboratively and fight crime on all fronts: public education, early learning, economic development, investing in safety and policing technologies as well as police personnel.”
“Make it the priority it deserves to be.”
“Stay the course. Police cannot fix mental illness. At best just keep arresting those responsible for these horrific crimes. Our government needs to spend more time and resources in solving our mental health issues.”
“Engage with every human being on the street. Engage. Inquire. Be helpful. Be honest. Engage. Be visible. Visible with protection. Visible with follow-up. Visible in every neighborhood.”
“Police presence and training are critical. Non-criminal, but clearly mentally ill, need somewhere other than the streets.”
“Keep working on the socioeconomic and educational challenges that lead to crime as a way of life.”
“Get cops out of cars on onto the streets, i.e.,community policing.”
And here is a longer comment:
“In our downtown area, we need to protect both privacy and safety. Both are tremendously important, but safety for ALL residents and visitors must be considered paramount. That being said, we are one community, and we should shun any rhetoric to the contrary. We must actively and explicitly reject fearmongering, labelling/splitting our community into factions, and arbitrary/targeted enforcement of minor/non-violent infractions. We should focus intently on the ultimate goal of uniting and collaborating to protect all human life for the benefit of our city as a whole.”
Board of Education member Larry Grohn noted that if citizens want more officers on the streets (and they say they do), then they must support law enforcement, support funding of more jail facilities and advocate state lawmakers for more prisons.
“Then, give the judges the powers they need to enforce the laws, especially in regard to repeat offenders,” he wrote. “Finally, parents and community organizations, including churches, must come forward to say enough is enough. We must say, “if you break the law you will go to jail and serve the entire sentence you receive.”
Another respondent, Vince Butler, president Butler Consulting, encouraged support for first responders.
“We also need to increase their pay so we can recruit and retain the best people to protect and serve our city,” he wrote. “We need more police officers with a stronger presence of them walking the streets in downtown to help make it safer and more inviting at night.”
And lastly on this issue, Ellis Smith, director of special projects for the city, offered this reminder:
"As every CPD police chief in recent memory has said, there is no police department in the world that alone can cure all of society’s ills. While proactive policing is certainly the front line of public safety, relying on law enforcement alone has never worked."
Solutions will take investments in criminal justice, mental health services, public education, affordable housing and economic development.
"If any of this was easy of cheap, every city would already be doing it," he wrote. "But Chattanoogans excel when we work together, rolling up our sleeves to make our city a better place. We know what the problems are. It’s up to us to fix them."
Finally, Power Poll members were asked to describe the state of American politics — in one word. Well, 103 responded.
Here are the top 10:
Dysfunctional ... Divided ... Divisive ... Broken ... Sad ... Selfish ... Chaos ... Pathetic ... Disarray ... Embarrassing.
Leet's see what the U.S. House does today. Stay tuned. There will be more lively adjectives coming!
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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.
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