NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper released the first report for the Policing Policy Commission Monday with “community recommendations to reduce force, build trust and enhance public safety.”
The Metro Nashville Policing Policy Commission was established in August. The group of local residents from various backgrounds is tasked with reviewing use-of-force policies at the Metro Nashville Police Department and develop necessary reforms to set a new national standard in policing and public safety.
Mayor Cooper asked the Commission to produce recommendations to reduce police use of force, improve trust across all of Nashville’s communities and enhance public safety. He also expressed the hope the Commission’s recommendations would serve as a blueprint for Nashville’s next Chief of Police.
To undertake this work, the Policing Policy Commission was divided into three committees – Communities, Workforce, and Policy. Each committee elected its leadership.
The Communities Committee elected Judge Melissa Blackburn as chair and YWCA President and CEO Sharon Roberson as vice chair.
The Workforce Committee elected End Slavery President and CEO Margie Quin (a former police officer and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent) as its chair and a Stand Up Nashville representative and former operations manager for the Global Black Lives Matter Network, Whitney Washington, as its vice chair.
The Policy Committee elected then-Community Oversight Board Chair Ashlee Davis as its chair and Nashvillians Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) representative Amanda Lucas, a psychotherapist and former probation officer, as its vice chair.
Committees met virtually on a weekly basis. All told, they logged more than 66 hours of deliberations. They convened four extra-committee briefings (virtual brown bag lunches) and heard from nearly 40 subject matter experts, ranging from Nashvillians with lived experience to national policing experts.
The Commission also created a data working group that met weekly. It included representatives from each committee as well as representatives from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) and the Community Oversight Board (COB), the independent, Charter-created entity approved by Nashville voters two years ago.
All committee meetings were recorded and are available for review on the Metro Nashville website.
The Commission identified four outcomes or results that for the MNPD to achieve. In the opinion of the Commission, achieving these results will put the MNPD on a path to reduce the use of force, build trust across all of Nashville’s neighborhoods, and enhance public safety.
Here are the desired results:
- The MNPD collaborates with residents, neighborhood associations, non-profits, faith-based institutions, business and community groups, and with other government departments and agencies.
- The MNPD better reflects the diversity of the city it serves at every level of the organization.
- The MNPD works to eliminate disparities in the application of all types of use of force and issues regular reports around the use of force, while also providing information to the COB to conduct its core oversight responsibility.
- MNPD officer training, skills, and behaviors, as well as department culture, reflect a commitment to consistent and respectful interactions with all Nashvillians, especially residents of color, as part of a concerted effort to eliminate disparities in the use of force. In particular, MNPD must build trust with African Americans, Muslim Americans, immigrant-origin communities, and the LGBTQ+ communities.
The Commission further recommended that in all its training, procedures, and policies, the MNPD reflect the following values and actions:
- Collaboration. Neighborhoods identify public safety priorities for the MNPD, and the MNPD addresses those needs not only through law enforcement but also by forming partnerships with residents, neighborhood associations, non-profits, faith-based institutions, business and community groups, and other government agencies.
- Diversity and inclusion. The MNPD prioritizes increasing racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities and orientation diversity at every level of the MNPD and recognizes that greater diversity will increase trust and enhance public safety for Nashville-Davidson County residents. The MNPD becomes a department where all Nashvillians are welcome and feel comfortable – as officers, civilian staff, residents and community partners.
- Human dignity. The MNPD recognizes that the disproportionate rate at which force is used against residents of color undermines trust. The MNPD prioritizes efforts to eliminate disparities in use of force by training and supervising officers to ensure consistent and respectful interactions with all Nashvillians.
- Transparency. The department provides timely public reports on use of force and recruitment efforts and recognizes the oversight role for the Community Oversight Board spelled out in the Metro Charter.
“As the Mayor of Nashville, I enthusiastically share and support these common goals,” said Mayor Cooper in a release. “I look forward to presenting these goals and recommendations to our next Chief of Police, as a blueprint for a Nashville model of public safety.”
“This is one of the best projects I have been a part of — for all the people of Nashville,” said Policing Policy Commission co-chair Dwight Lewis. “I am so honored to have been a part of it and to see a diverse group of fellow Nashvillians put in so much thought and time as to how to make our city’s police department much better than what it is today.”
“I am very thankful to Mayor Cooper for creating such a diverse and representative commission to examine issues of great importance to Nashville,” said Policing Policy Commission co-chair Karl Dean. “The commission members worked many hours in a collaborative manner to produce a report that will be highly useful to the new chief of police.”