NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Joe Casey, a retired Metro Nashville police chief and former President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, died on his birthday early Saturday morning.

Casey was 96 years old and led the Metro Nashville Police Department from 1973 to 1989. Metro Police’s current chief, Chief John Drake, joined the department under Chief Casey’s tenure. 

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  • Retired Chief Joe Casey and MNPD Chief Drake-1

Retired Chief Casey was involved in countless community engagements such as the annual Christmas Basket Delivery Program which he began as a sergeant in 1961. The former chief also has several buildings named after him including the west police precinct in West Nashville, known as the Chief Joe Casey Building.

Chief Drake issued the following statement following Casey’s passing:

 Chief Drake issued the following statement on Casey’s passing:

Chief Casey’s legacy is his dedication to Nashville and law enforcement, his caring concern for the employees of our department, and his effort to make life better for those less fortunate.  It was Chief Casey who started our annual Christmas Basket Program for the disadvantaged in 1961 by serving two families.  This year, approximately 300 households will receive gifts of food and toys on Christmas Eve morning because of the tradition he started. 

Chief Casey had a love for Special Olympics, and personally enlisted the support of Tennessee law enforcement agencies to assist in the program for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities.

“Chief Casey was my friend.  I am grateful to have served with him at the beginning of my career, and I am thankful for his support during my service as Chief.”

Amy Parker worked at Special Olympics Tennessee and became friends with Chief Casey over the years. She credits him for turning the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics into an international movement.

“Just to give you a scope of what that was, the very first torch run raised $600 in Kansas City in the mid-80s. And in 2019 the Law Enforcement Torch Run movement raised $57 million for Special Olympics just in North America,” Parker said.

Casey was a minor league pitcher for the Boston Braves, as well as an avid golf player and bowler.

Parker said she will always remember Casey as going above and beyond to give back to the community.

“He also really pushed police officers to look outside of what their daily duties were and to look at the community and really again have a heart for service and a mind for service,” Parker said. “I’m grateful to be able to call him my friend. I’m grateful that I was able to get to know him and [he was] so humble and didn’t even realize the impact that he left. I don’t think he truly understands the impact he’s leaving.”

Funeral arrangements for the former chief have yet to be announced.