NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Metro council member tells News 2 that the mayor’s abrupt decision to expedite the Metro Nashville Police Chief’s last day to Thursday was influenced by the lack of enforcement of his COVID-19 health order mandates.
District 19 Councilman Freddie O’Connell was one of more than a dozen members to call for the mayor to fire the police chief in June.
Mayor John Cooper announced Chief Steve Anderson’s resignation one week later, stating that it was not due to community unrest. Cooper announced that Thursday, August 6 would be Anderson’s final day in command of the department.
O’Connell told News 2 that it was a build-up of lack of COVID-19 mandate enforcement in the last week.
Nashville made national headlines after a house party with about a thousand people took place for hours Saturday night. A total of 22 calls came into police before it was shut down around 1 a.m. No citations were given, two vehicles were towed.
In addition, transpotainment continued to operate downtown despite the mayor’s several mandates to close them down.
Then, the police department announced Wednesday it would start enforcing the mayor’s mask mandate with citations. Many people were disheartened to see the first enforcement would be the arrest of a homeless black man on Broadway who police stated was warned several times before.
The calls for Anderson to resign started in 2018 after the deaths of two black men at the hands of Metro Police— Jocques Clemmons and Daniel Hambrick. At that point, Anderson said he had no intention of resigning.
The demands came again after the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, in which Anderson said in a press conference that he did not condone the officer’s behavior.
O’Connell also added that he was most upset after the rioter set the Metro courthouse on fire during the first Black Lives Matter protest in March. He said the department’s first two arrests were civil rights activists for walking on a police car, instead of those that destroyed the courthouse.
Anderson is also a lawyer and Air Force veteran. He served a total of 45 years with the police department, 10 years as chief.
In his time as chief, total crime in Metro went down but increased in the past few years with the rapidly-growing population. He also opened several new precincts and a DNA lab.
The release from the mayor’s office states Deputy Chief John Drake will assume command as Interim Chief beginning Friday, August 7, while the city continues its national search for a reform-minded Chief of Police who will make Nashville a model of community engagement and policing innovation.