NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Skyrocketing homicide rates, juvenile crime, and civil unrest are just a few of the issues Nashville’s newly appointed police chief is tackling.
In an effort to be more transparent, Chief John Drake took time on his first official day on the job to talk about his top priorities when it comes to crime.
Violent crime, juvenile crime and interpersonal crime are some of the issues he says he is addressing immediately.
“Immediately is to get a handle on violent crime. We need to improve our efforts and we are working hard. It’s just, it’s complex when you have kids that aren’t being held accountable, guns and drugs,” Chief Drake told News 2.
He added that the ages of the criminals just keep getting younger.
“We’re seeing 12 and 13-year-olds at a higher rate now. It’s very concerning, and it’s really one of my major drives moving forward.”
The chief plans to tackle the issue by working with the juvenile court system, advocates and families within the community.
“We won’t be able to arrest our way out of it, so we are looking at other alternatives,” he explained.
Also of great concern is Nashville’s homicide rate, more than 30 percent higher this year compared to last. Drake says his efforts to curb it are already put in motion with a 19-member centralized homicide unit.
“Back in 2004, they decentralized all of the homicide teams, and so they were sent to the precincts and so you may have someone that investigated a murder, but then may also get assigned a vehicle theft or a burglary or a shoplifting, and that takes away from the ultimate case that you are trying to investigate,” said Drake.
Under his leadership, the unit now focuses solely on homicides and they are already seeing results.
“Another thing we started doing is we took our crime gun detectives and we have them going out with our crime scene investigators after the incidents to recanvass the area to look for additional evidence, to make connections, maybe with community members who are out to find out more about these cases.”
Chief Drake also plans to dig deeper into interpersonal crime.
“Establish a commander over that and then align the domestic violence services, youth services and sex crimes under that particular format. For the first time ever, we will have a commander and that’s going to be immediate,” he stated.
While some critics have raised concern about hiring within the department, Chief Drake says change is coming and that includes a shake up within the department in the coming weeks.