NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A juvenile diversion program is one of the big focuses of a new office within the Metro Police Nashville Department.
Inspector David Imhof is leading the new Office of Alternative Policing Strategies. He said they’re working on a co-response model for mental health calls where a clinician responds with a police officer.
Another goal is creating a juvenile diversion program. He said the Davidson County Juvenile Court currently diverts about 75-percent of kids that come into their program.
“They have a limited amount of resources and they want to really use the resources they have for that 25-percent of the children they deal with that have some chronic issues and have some really serious offenses that they’re dealing with,” Imhof said. “We’re still in the infancy of this program and developing it. We’re trying to make sure that 75-percent that gets diverted doesn’t eventually become that 25-percent and how do we do that.”
He explained they’re looking into creating a program that establishes a point of contact for families of juveniles working with local organizations.
“There are so many fantastic programs throughout this city, so many fantastic resources and everyone’s doing an amazing job out there but a lot of it’s working in silos,” said. “One of the challenges that I have is understanding all those programs throughout the city and how can we connect with those programs. I had a meeting with a service provider a couple of weeks ago and it’s not uncommon for a family to have numerous caseworkers associated with them based on the organizations that they work with. So many of our families struggle but not only is it difficult to deal with what those struggles are but also dealing with all the different service providers is a bit overwhelming.”
A program addressing gun violence is another priority for this office. Based on the latest statistics from metro police, homicides in Nashville have increased 38.5-percent compared to this time last year
“We want to make sure that when you hit that fork in the road, they have a really good viable option to take as opposed to going to a violent direction,” Imhof said. “It’s trying to find out what are the needs for folks and how can we get them plugged into what those needs are and to give them alternatives to what they’re doing right now. And this is going to be a partnership with the Mayor’s Office – that particular program. And there’s going to be several different stakeholders and partners out there because this isn’t something the police department can do on it’s own. You’ve heard Chief Drake say a million times that we can’t arrest our way out of the situation so we’re trying to find, like the name of my office, alternative strategies to dealing with some of these issues in our city outside of just going out and trying to arrest everybody because that’s just not feasible.”
Inspector Imhof said right now… their focus is research and talking with other cities that have implemented similar programs to see what works best for Nashville.