NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Already this year the TBI has investigated eight police-involved shootings. Compared to past years at this time where six shootings were investigated in 2021, one in 2020, and five in 2019.

Simply seeing the statistics doesn’t tell the full story of the underlying issues driving the increase says Robert Michaels who served as a police detective and founded the organization Serve & Protect which provides services for those in the line of duty. “We have got to have more respect for the value of life,” Michaels said.

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Access to weapons in Tennessee has never been easier with the permitless carry law and irresponsible gun ownership has caught the eye of a 34-year veteran of the Nashville Police Department, Bob Allen, who currently serves as the Director of Training for Royal Range.

“The biggest problem, at least with the Nashvillians that I know, is they leave the gun in the car and leave the car unlocked. So, you know, these bad guys and girls that we ended up using force on, they can’t come into the store here and buy it because they’ve got a criminal record. So, they have to get them from somewhere like that,” Allen said.

Mental health strains, heightened during COVID-19, have also made situations more volatile.

“An example of that is that one on 65,” Allen said, referring to the standoff that lasted for a half-hour on I-65 in Nashville at the end of January. Both men agree more preventative work needs to be done to address mental health issues depending on law enforcement to address the situation during a stand-off is unrealistic.

“If there is an opportunity to de-escalate, by all means,” Michaels said. “But just because they’re not in their right mind, that doesn’t make them less deadly.”

Allen also discussed a trend in criminals on the streets. “Some of the doing is the criminal justice system, also that they’re letting people out earlier. Now, you know, most offenders are repeat offenders.”

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That coupled with what Michaels calls a growing disrespect for the badge, all contribute to the growing trend of officer-involved shootings.

“We all want a bad cop taken off for the force, but we get equally incensed when a good cop is trashed,” Michaels said. “Innocent until proven guilty. That applies to everybody.”