The District Attorney’s Office is taking issue with numbers released by the Metro Police Department.
MNPD released a chart showing the number of charges that were dismissed in Davidson County last year. On its face, the numbers seem startling.
However, the DA’s office believes the numbers don’t tell the real story.
“They are misleading,” said Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman. “I don’t really know what the purpose is of running the query. Our office doesn’t run that query because you have to look up every single case.”
Metro Police pulled the number of charges dismissed not the number of cases. The figures show 75% of the charges in that category were retired or dismissed.
However, if you look at the number of cases about 75% of cases lead to a conviction.
“They pulled all counts; they didn’t pull cases. We look at it by a case-by-case basis,” Norman said.
Norman said she looked at every child abuse, neglect and endangerment charge from last year. She is in charge of prosecuting those cases.
Norman said that 164 defendants were responsible for the 316 child abuse, neglect and endangerment charges last year. She says someone may be convicted on one or two charges and her office will dismiss the other charges as part of a plea.
“It’s the additional counts that are being dismissed but the person’s still being held accountable,” Norman said. “The person might be pleading to 50 years with 100% to serve, and we’re dismissing 15 counts in the indictment, but they’re still going to the penitentiary for 50 years.”
Norman said it’s impossible to pursue every charge, which would result in a decades-long backlog. The officer will charge a person with as many items as applicable with the hope that the prosecutors can try a strong case.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, charges will also be dismissed if someone can benefit from parenting classes rather than jail.
For example, a 25-year-old dropped off his 12-year-old sister and 10-year-old cousin at an IHOP last year so he could go shopping.
In another case, a woman left her two grandchildren sleeping while she delivered newspapers.
Instead of incarcerating the children’s’ caretakers, the DA’s office sentenced them to parenting classes. Upon completion, the charges were dismissed. Norman said if they didn’t complete the classes, they would have been convicted.
Metro Police said while their methods are different, the numbers are both true. Police said arrests are down and conviction rates are decreasing, too.
The police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, said in a statement:
“Our community expects the police officers of Nashville to investigate, apprehend and charge individuals who commit crimes. The high rate of dismissals and retirements in this report is a slap in the face to every officer who has taken a risk or made a sacrifice to uphold these expectations. Furthermore, victims of crimes expect the district attorney to follow through when officers apprehend their offender. Every victim, and every citizen of Nashville deserves an explanation from the district attorney as to why he believes a policy that dismissed a majority of the charges linked to fighting the police, human trafficking, domestic assault, child abuse and more are acceptable. If our officers ignored these crimes, they would be severely disciplined and could even face termination. The officers that risk their lives to protect this city, and everyone who lives, works, or recreates in Nashville deserves to know who will be held accountable for the policy that compromises public safety.”