‘He has his work cut out for him:’ FOP, ministers react to new police chief

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The newly appointed Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake says change is coming. It’s what many in the community have been pleading for, but those we spoke to agree that he has his work cut out for him. 

In a year where homicides have increased 30% in Nashville and social unrest has reached new heights, the 32-year Metro police veteran says he is already at work with a new policing approach “do no harm to the community.” The approach is focused on curbing violent crimes through community engagement and getting repeat, violent offenders off the streets.

Pastor Chris Jackson who is president of Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF) told News 2 he has hope. 

“At this point, it’s very important for us as a city to try and come together and try to work together. With that in mind, I have hope but he has his work cut out for him,” pastor Jackson explained.

IMF, comprised of a group of pastors, called for Chief Anderson to step aside and are demanding policy changes. 

“Some of the elements I hope to see him pursue is being open to the entire city, understanding that he is here to serve actually, and also working with the community oversight board,” Jackson explained. 

Drake expressed a willingness to better collaborate with the Community Oversight Board and to implement reforms called for in the policing policy reports. 

The Nationwide search for Nashville’s police chief began immediately after the abrupt early retirement of Chief Steve Anderson in mid-June. Drake was later named interim chief. He beat more than 50 other candidates vying for the top position. 

“There are two schools of thought and one is it’s very difficult to have systemic change internally and I understand that school of thought. It is relevant and the other school of thought is it takes someone from the inside to make the change and I’m hopeful that the latter is true,” explained Jackson. 

The Fraternal Order of Police has backed Drake from the beginning saying he is the best candidate for the job. 

“Chief Drake knows the department, he knows the city and we need someone in a challenging time in law enforcement who can hit the ground running and move this department forward and look to the future,” FOP President James Smallwood told News 2. 

Smallwood agrees it’s a difficult time and position to lead.

“It’s a tumultuous time to be in law enforcement, it’s a difficult time to even be serving in law enforcement so if you are in this profession it’s a challenging time. He certainly has work cut out for him. We are looking forward to working with him moving forward.” 

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