Nashville’s fire and police departments are asking for more money to keep up with the city’s growth.
Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson made his presentation during a budget hearing Wednesday morning with Mayor David Briley.
Anderson asked for an additional $13.5 million saying the department’s priority is staffing an additional precinct in Antioch, which would be the ninth in Nashville.
“It takes 66 new officers to open a new precinct,” Anderson said. “We propose hiring the first of the 22 new officers in the upcoming fiscal year, and the remainder over the next two fiscal years. We could conceivably open the ninth precinct in calendar year 2021 if we begin the staffing process in the upcoming fiscal year.”
Chief Anderson said the additional money would also be needed in order to follow through with the plan to equip every officer and police vehicle with a camera.
“This program is much more than an officer just affixing a camera to his or her uniform and going to work,” said Chief Anderson. “There is required infrastructure and persons needed to ensure that the infrastructure operates seamlessly with the camera systems.”
Anderson said the police department will need to promote 24 officers to the rank of sergeant, one per precinct per shift, to be the front-line supervisors for the body camera program who will ensure the video is properly uploaded and categorized.
“The administrative duties required of our existing sergeants now are already significant and I do not want to put anything else on them that would further diminish their time in the field,” he said. “It is our request to replace those 24 officers who become new sergeants with the hiring of 24 police officer trainees.”
As part of the body camera program, Chief Anderson also requested to hire 12 civilian technical experts. Ten would be hired for the IT division and two would be for the public affairs office “to ensure that the video storage process operates as it should, and to process attorney and public requests for copies of video.”
Nashville Mayor David Briley said in a statement that he supports the new ninth precinct, use of body cameras and “is committed to rolling them out in a fiscally-responsible way.”
In addition to the police department’s request, the Nashville Fire Department also said it needs more money and more people to handle the growing demand for emergency help.
In a separate budget hearing, Interim Chief William Swann told the mayor he needs 67 new firefighters and two medical units.
“We’ve been doing our job for a long time and the men and women in the field are the ones that make it happen,” said Chief Swann. “Any assistance we can get we’ll greatly appreciate and put it great use.”
The department says the opioid crisis is affecting them. From July 2017 to January 2018, the department spent $119,000 dollars on Narcan.
Nashville’s EMTs and firefighters gave Narcan to 275 patients with a presumed overdose in January and February this year, compared to 131 patients in January and February 2017 – a 110 percent increase.
Even if some patients receive more than one dose, Chief Swann says it shows what they’re up against.
“It still just shows the situation and the dire need for Narcan,” said the Chief. “And to make sure we have proper staffing and medical supplies to be able to administer this.”
Chief Swann also asked for additional funding for specialized training for active shooters, HazMat, Urban Search and Rescue, trench and confined space rescues, and high rise rescue techniques.
The next step is to meet with the mayor one and one and then, there should be a first draft of the budget in May.