NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN)- On Tuesday night, 10 candidates running for Nashville mayor attended Nashville Voices: The Mayoral Race, moderated by News 2’s Bob Mueller, to address questions straight from the community.
Among the various questions that were asked, one focused on how each candidate would address crime in the Metro area.
The question asked:
“Even before the Covenant tragedy, there have been heightened worries about violent crime in West Nashville, due partly to teenagers regularly breaking into cars in every neighborhood to steal guns and money. Do you have any thoughts about how you as mayor would combat this problem?” asked Carrington Fox, representing West Nashville.
(The following is listed in the order each candidate answered the question on stage)
“Thank you, and it’s a critically important question. One of the most important things a Mayor and a government can do is keep our citizens safe, and so you can’t avoid thinking about this, and I’ve been working on it for 8 years because I knew in getting elected in 2015 to one of the highest crime and highest poverty districts we’d have to do a lot of work on this issue.”
“Specifically, we know things that work around the country, even in a city that is limited by the state, and what we can do to combat gun violence in particular where we’ve got a gun stolen from cars epidemic that’s raising out of control. We can still do some important steps, and I hope we take some of the steps that we’ve already made and in the part of the city I represent where we’ve got a great partnership between our housing authority and our police department and we’ve paired it with investments right into the community.”
“We usually know where violence is coming from and if we disrupt the social networks that have that happening with a mix of law enforcement, social service providers, and the community we can make incredible strides.”
“So, there are 35 districts in Davidson County and five of those districts have the highest crime rates. So, 30 districts get to live in almost peace and five get to live in hell. So, what we are going to do in six months is create strategic plans for those five districts with the highest crime rates. I’ve already done this where I’ve sat at tables with Metro police, and nonprofit organizations. I’ve done non-profit development for five years, and I helped develop a nonprofit that helps to combat youth violence in our city.”
“Across the nation, the biggest issue with dealing with violence in a city is the political will to do anything about it. That is the number one reason why crime stays high. There are shootings happening every single day here in Nashville. I’m requesting each district council member to show up to those families’ homes, go to the hospital, and maybe, day after day after you’ve shown up, you’ll feel the will to actually do something about it.”
“There’s no greater threat to our quality of life than violence. My favorite thing to do each week is walking my 7-year-old daughter to school, but like so many parents, that was harder in the last few weeks because I think we saw in the Covenant tragedy how violence — especially gun violence — can shatter our lives. We have to do more. I think partially, I’ve been working on this issue for years, and even more this most recent tragedy was working to deal with safe storage laws.”
“After the Covenant tragedy, really tried to push the legislature towards red flag laws, but even if we’re not going to see that work at the state level, there’s work the mayor in Nashville can do and must do because there are laws that we need to make sure are better enforced to keep illegal guns off the street, to stop the illegal break-ins that lead to guns being stolen and the violence that’s creeping up in our neighborhoods. That’s what I’m going to do as mayor.”
“Violence isn’t necessarily the issue, it’s the symptom, and we need to make sure that we’re addressing the root causes of why we’re having this violence. We have mental health issues. We need to support our police force, that we get our police force what they need to do their job, but this also means that we don’t expect our police to do things that they are not qualified to do. We need to have social interventions and violence interrupters, and people who actually know how to deal with mental health in situations so that we can deescalate violent situations before they get worse.”
“I have run common sense gun legislation every year that I have been in the legislature, and we are finally going to have a session to address this. I really really hope that people keep showing up and letting the legislature know that this is important.”
“This is a question that I hear across the county. A concern that small crimes start to add up and become large crimes. One that you shared a story from, earlier this year Lindsey Mullagin was mugged and beaten at 3:30 in the afternoon walking to her car on West End. She didn’t do anything wrong except try to walk from her office to her car. I called her and asked her what we needed to know as potential future mayors to be able to reset the relationship that we have right now in our city with crime, and I’ve written extensively about that.”
“The symptom is that two-thirds of the crimes that are reported are never cleared, and so victims are becoming more afraid and criminals are becoming more bold. We have to reset from a criminal justice system to a victims justice system, and I’ve written about how I think we can do just that.”
“We have to deal with the root cause. Why is that someone has the need to have to go and steal? Or kill? Of course, what happened at Covenant School is just totally unthinkable. It’s just sad. Why do we need assault rifles? Why do we need war rifles in our communities? We don’t. So, we have to support the initiative that was signed by this mayor here in Nashville, and of Knoxville and Chattanooga, about various things that we can take a step in doing that will happen at the state legislature. It needs to happen now.”
“It’s unfortunate that we have to wait until August for a special session for something that is happening today, that happened yesterday, and between now and August something else could happen, I pray to God that it does not. We are going to have to invest in Mr. Chief Drake and all the public safety employees.”
“After-school programs, community programs. I was in Bordeaux and that’s one of the things that I’m hearing from leaders and constituents that we need more after-school programs. Remember band, remember theatre, remember the arts. As mayor of Nashville, I want to work with the Davidson County Public Education Board to make sure that our after-school programs and our after-care programs are fully invested.”
“Why is crime going up after Covid? There’s absolutely nothing to do. When there is nothing to do, there’s a crime, and once again, 200 police officers, short. If we don’t have recruitment of police officers, and somewhere where police officers have the ability to stay where they live, we can actually solve this problem. Thank you for the question.”
“There is no more important priority for a mayor than keeping the citizens safe, and we do have a crime issue. We just concluded the third year where we had more than 100 homicides. That has never happened in the history of the city, and we’re on pace for this year to be the fourth. We have a violent crime rate that is 70-80% higher than peer cities. That frankly is unacceptable.
“As mayor, I will focus on three things: First properly funding the police force. Second, I’m going to tirelessly lobby our state for common-sense gun legislation. Third, we do need to attack crime at the source. I’m going to set up an office of public safety that is going to develop a comprehensive crime prevention strategy, targeting our youth, working with each neighborhood and each community, the leaders in that community, community partners, and coordinating across metro departments because we have to ultimately stop the root cause of what’s causing crime.”
“The events of March 27 were absolutely horrific, and our city will be forever changed by them. If there was one small light in that very dark day, it was seeing how bravely and professionally our police department responded to that tragedy. Our police force is underfunded right now, understaffed and we need to better utilize the resources that we have. We have commissioned police officers responding to minor traffic accidents, the officers that we have, we need to make sure they are engaged with the community, building relationships with those in the community to prevent crimes from happening in the first place, and we need to work on crime prevention.”
“I also want to applaud the work that Sheriff Hall and Chief Drake are doing to engage mental health professionals to help address and de-escalate situations before they get to be worse. We need to have a comprehensive plan and work with the Sheriff and the Police Chief to reduce crime before it gets out of control.”
“Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. We’re going to have to have community policing, a robust community policing, working with those grassroots organizations that are on the ground working with those kids. We are going to have to restore hope in our families and build that family structure because crime comes because of the rebellious, or because of a cry for help, and we’ve got to invest in those kids. As mayor, I am going to institute a literacy program for first graders to make sure that they are able to read after the first grade so we can have a pipeline to prosperity as opposed to a pipeline to prison.”
“We’ve got to invest in our families as a whole.”
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