NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More than 71% of people whom the Metro Nashville Police Department considers its “most wanted” and “most violent” fugitives have been taken off the streets within the last nine months.
The high success rate can largely be attributed to a number of tips from people who’ve gotten a glimpse of those suspects on the police department’s “Top 10 Most Wanted” list, according to Capt. Billy Morris, who oversees the Criminal Warrants Division.
“The largest amount of success to this program is the public’s input and the public sharing of information; and the media getting this message out there has helped us take literally the worst of the worst criminals off the streets of Nashville,” Morris said.
The Criminal Warrants Division launched the “Most Wanted” list on Oct. 19, 2022. Although some police precincts had already been crafting their own “Most Wanted” lists, Morris said it was the first time they had created a list that spanned city-wide.
“A key component to community policing is information sharing and partnering with the community to resolve issues; and at the inception of this, I believed this was something that would be important for the safety of our community,” Morris said.
What gets someone put on the ‘Most Wanted’ list
The list focuses on people who are wanted for violent offenses such as murder, aggravated assault, robberies, burglaries, sex crimes and crimes against children. Every week, Morris said officers review a list of wanted fugitives from each precinct and determine who should be added.
In many cases, investigators have run into a “dead end” and need the public’s help finding suspects who have been on the run for a year, or sometimes longer.
“It’s exceptionally difficult to make these arrests where people are wanted for these types of violent crimes and crimes against children, they go into deep hiding,” Morris said. “I know from my experience working in investigations, you can literally have a year or more investigation into just finding some of these wanted persons.”
The severity of the crime is the main focus, Morris explained. Although the majority of suspects on the “Most Wanted” list have been Black and Hispanic men, Morris said race does not play a factor in who police choose to feature on the list.
“This is comprised from the entire police department’s most violent, most wanted individuals,” he said. “It’s not that we’re individually looking at one group, it’s that we’re looking at the most violent, most wanted people; and unfortunately over the last few months, it has had a lot of African Americans and Hispanic individuals on there.”
‘90% of the tips that we get lead to an arrest’
Since last October, there have been around 80 wanted fugitives on the “Top 10 Most Wanted” list, with some appearing on the list week after week because Morris said police “want to focus on trying to get those individuals.” Of those 80 people, a total of 57 have been arrested.
“Interestingly enough, four of the 57 suspects have actually turned themselves in,” Morris said. “We had one individual that his father brought him to the Criminal Warrants Division after his name came up on the ‘Most Wanted’ list.”
Tips from the public have played a vital role in other cases. Morris estimates that police have received more than 50 tips regarding “Most Wanted” suspects through hubNashville, Nashville Crime Stoppers and from people calling the Criminal Warrants Division.
One of those tips came from a landlord who realized his tenant, 28-year-old Jamion Wynn, was wanted on two outstanding warrants for first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after seeing his face on a newscast.
Police had been looking for Wynn since Oct. 22, 2021, when he reportedly shot and injured a woman who told investigators she was trying to help a person that was overdosing. Wynn is also believed to have been involved in a murder a few months later on Feb. 16, 2022.
He was taken into custody on June 1 after police received a tip from his landlord saying he was in Rutherford County. Another murder suspect on the “Most Wanted” list was arrested based on a tip that came in not long after producers of In Pursuit with John Walsh highlighted the case on their show.
“I would say at least 90% of the tips that we get lead to an arrest,” Morris said. “We had three tips come in this morning on an individual that’s on the list and we’re hoping we can get him taken into custody before the end of the week.”
‘We feel like it has been a tremendous success’
Other data has also shown that the “Most Wanted” list is gaining traction in the community. According to Morris, the Criminal Warrants Division’s Facebook page has gained 4,500 followers since last October and had more than 100,000 views and likes on “Most Wanted” posts.
“So, we know that the community is looking at our Facebook page and looking at the local media’s websites to see who these individuals are, and we feel like it has been a tremendous success,” Morris said.
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The list is updated every Wednesday on the Criminal Warrants Division’s Facebook page and can also be found on News 2’s website. Police ask that anyone who recognizes someone on the list contact the MNPD at 615-862-8600 or Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.
“We would just ask the community to continue to look at the local media’s webpages, and their newscasts and our Facebook page,” Morris said. “We’ll do the follow up. Any information that we receive is confidential. We’ll not release anyone in the community’s names.”