NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Over the past few months, police have reported shootings, stabbings and other violent crimes throughout Davidson County. Data from the Metro Nashville Police Department showed that there was been a 21.5% increase in violent crime offenses in the Central Precinct.
“As we know, we just hired a night manager to start really looking at the comprehensively, from a codes perspective, from a public safety perspective about how we can manage more successfully downtown, so this is a piece of that. So, we have to reduce violent crime obviously downtown and our Entertainment District on Lower Broadway,” explained Councilmember Jeff Syracuse.
Syracuse is one of the sponsors of the resolution that went before the Metro Council on Tuesday. The resolution allows Metro police to apply for a $3 million grant. It would pay for a range of ways to reduce violent crime.
One of them is through a new program called “PAL,” in which MNPD attempted to reach out to juveniles between the ages of 10-19 in an effort to deter them from committing crimes or being the target of one. The goal is to engage youth through competitive and recreational sports, with the goal of creating positive experiences.
Another method listed in the grant uses a portion of the money to pay for new equipment for a Community Safety Center, with the goal of using cameras throughout the county to provide real-time data to officers on the way to a scene.
“That helps to kind of codify the existing technology that we have into our ability to be able to react more quickly to violent crime when it happens, analyze it, and take the proper action,” said Syracuse. “This program really helps pull together the existing technology that we already have, expand a little bit, but if we can identify, analyze, and take action quickly, I think this is a technology well spent.”
However, those in opposition to video surveillance worry this new funding could overstep boundaries.
“Our communities have seen and know that these excessive surveillance practices undermine the right of all of us and our Black and Brown communities are historically linked to surveillance and over-policing. We do not want a police state in our neighborhoods,” explained Luis Mata, with Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.
Mata has long since been opposed to police using cameras placed in communities and was one of many people who stood against the Metro Council using license plate readers. With the increase in violent crime, News 2 asked Mata what he would say to those who agree more policing is needed.
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“We’ve heard this a lot right, and so the reality is this is a reaction to criminal activity happening, this is not going to solve criminal activity from happening. What will is that investment that resources and funding into our communities,” explained Mata.
The grant also went into detail about struggles with MNPD, specifically with facing a shortage of sworn personnel. The department details how, “despite intense and targeted recruitment efforts, the MNPD is having a difficult time maintaining even minimal patrol staffing levels.”