NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Public approval of the Metro Nashville Police Department has jumped nearly 13% since multiple officers took down an active shooter at The Covenant School, a new Vanderbilt University poll found.
The team of researchers began conducting the survey for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI) at Vanderbilt University two weeks before the mass shooting at The Covenant School and concluded it 10 days later on April 6.
Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, William Kinney, all 9 years old, and Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61 were killed after the suspect opened fire on the second floor of the school on March 27, firing a total of 152 rounds.
Metro Police Officers Rex Engelbert, a 4-year veteran, and Michael Collazo, a 9-year veteran, were among the first officers to enter the school after hearing the call over their radios that morning and are credited with taking the shooter down.
In the days following, they, along with several other first responders who were dispatched to the school, received praise from Chief of Police John Drake and numerous other Nashville residents who thanked them for their “quick actions.”
“The first responders that responded…did what we’re trained to do,” Drake said during a press conference on April 4. “They formed together, they got prepared and went right in knowing that every second, every moment wasted could cost lives.”
In an interview with News 2, Mike Walker, a retired colonel with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said MNPD’s response could not have been more different than the Uvalde Elementary School shooting in Texas, where officers were scrutinized for waiting and 21 people were killed.
Given the timing of the survey, John Geer, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, Ginny and Conner Searcy Dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of political science, said there are “only a few things” that can be gleaned from “the impact this tragic event had on the public.”
However, there was one key finding to report. Over 1,000 Nashville and Davidson County residents were asked how they would rate the job the Metro Nashville Police Department is doing, and Greer said their ratings were higher after the mass shooting.
“It was 66% prior to the shooting and 79% after it. This sharp increase aligns with the bravery these officers exhibited when they reached the school,” said Greer, who added that researchers plan to examine the impact of the shooting more in a soon-to-be-launched statewide poll.