NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An 18-year-old Belmont freshman, Jillian Ludwig, died this week after being hit with a stray bullet while walking in an Edgehill neighborhood park.
Officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department said they were flagged down to the park around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to respond to a report of a woman lying on the track and found Ludwig suffering from a gunshot wound to her head.
In light of Ludwig’s passing, Nashville residents are asking questions about how this unthinkable tragedy happened so close to the Midtown Hills precinct and how the student laid undiscovered for nearly an hour.
“If you go up to a precinct at any time of day, it’s not going to seem like what you might imagine of just a hub of activity of people constantly coming and going on patrol,” said Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell. “There is some of that activity, but it’s not like the precinct itself would necessarily mean that someone is going to be walking the block at all hours of the day.”
O’Connell said within Edgehill and his own neighborhood, residents said they would like to see more patrol officers on foot, monitoring communities.
A report published by the former Metro Nashville Community Oversight Board at the start of this year cited research called the “Rule of 60.”
It suggests 60% of sworn-in officers should be dedicated to patrol staffing and notes the Department of Justice said for agencies that serve 100,000 or more residents, an average of about 63% of sworn in officers are dedicated to patrol.
In Nashville, however, only 36% of MNPD staff were dedicated to patrol, according to the report.
“While the Rule of 60 isn’t to be treated as an absolute, such a big gap should raise a flag for the department,” the report reads.
O’Connell said he needs to go back and look at that data to inform his public safety plan and discussions with Metro Police Chief John Drake moving forward.
There is a ninth Nashville police precinct opening soon, and O’Connell said he does have concerns about how staffing this precinct will impact the number of officers dedicated to patrol. That is why he said it’s important to improve communities holistically.
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“We are trying to tackle this on all fronts, from traditional law enforcement public safety, to those more community-based interventions that we hope prevent future tragedies,” said O’Connell.
In the Edgehill neighborhood, specifically, the mayor said he’s in discussions with local churches, libraries, and Belmont University, for example, to improve safety collectively.
“It is the top job of the mayor to keep Nashville safe,” said O’Connell. “We’ve already made sure, for instance, that Belmont’s on campus security team is connected to MNPD.”
Additionally, heading into the new year, O’Connell said Drake has been very optimistic about staffing levels due to vigorous recruitment efforts and budgeting.