In response to Mayor John Coopers forming a commission on police reform, and the eventual hiring of a new police chief, some of its members had this to say: “Nashville needs a police department that is responsive to all of our residents and that is committed to transparency and accountability,” said Sabina Mohyuddin, Executive Director of the American Muslim Advisory Committee. “I am grateful to Mayor Cooper for bringing together this diverse group to begin the process of making Nashville a more just city.”
“The Statement for Policing Policy Commission is comprehensive, ambitious, balanced and sensitive to the needs of the greater Nashville community,” said Dr. Chris Jackson, Pastor at Pleasant Green Baptist Church and President of the Interfaith Ministerial Alliance.
Notice the trend..responsive and sensitive to the Nashville community?
Mayor Cooper directed the Commission to form three committees to undertake this work, led by former Mayor Karl Dean and Judge Richard Dinkins, a civil rights activist and judge for the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Cooper has requested the commission to complete their report by the end of October, reminding them that they are “drafting the blueprint which the next Chief of Police will build upon,”
The three committees will be working on: 1) Serving Nashville’s Communities 2) Screening, Supervision, Resources, and Recruitment and 3) Policies, Tactics, and Training.
Let’s look at the first area of work, “Serving Nashville’s Communities”. The basis for this agenda is what experiences have Nashvillians had with police use of force, how does the MNPD interact with people with mental illnesses, how can the MNPD better support community and neighborhood engagement strategies and more effectively address violent crime, particularly gun crime and are there opportunities for the MNPD (and Metro more broadly) to improve responses in its interactions with homeless residents, juveniles, and other vulnerable populations?
Police officers are required to fulfill 40 hours of mandatory, in service training every year. That training includes courses on mental health, and child sex abuse, with new courses added as issues within communities evolve. Police training also focuses on use of force policies, and receive updates as policies change. Police training in Tennessee is overseen and certified by a POST Commission, with stringent guidelines, and well vetted instructors that must meet and comply with POST standards.
That being said, our law enforcement officers are professional, well trained individuals with skills that exceed past the classroom and into the communities. Protecting and serving is their job, however “serving” seems to mean different things to many. Serving a community is the ability to keep it safe and free from crime. Serving is ensuring quality of life issues, and ordinances are adhered to.
Serving is not bowing to a community to meet their whims, or appease one group over another. It is not creating special classes of people, whether by religion, or ethnicity. These were the methods that Obama’s policing strategies attempted, and failed. Why would any city official continue to implement failed agendas.
Time after time, it is always the police that must change in order to please a community. Police are not the answer to all of societies ills, but are blamed for their existence.
Next up, Part 3: Screening, Supervision, Resources, and Recruitment.