Metro Policing Policy Commission set to make Nashville model of 21st century policing

Nashville Mayor John Cooper has created the Metro Nashville’s Policing Policy Commission, which has been formed to review use-of-force policies within the MNPD and develop necessary reforms to set a new national standard in policing and public safety.

Earlier this summer, former President Obama called on mayors across the United States to commit to use-of-force reviews through a collaborative and inclusive effort. Mayor Cooper quickly committed Metro government to this emerging national conversation on policing reform.

Eric Brown, coordinator of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment and Youth Development, and John Buntin, director of Policy and Community Safety, are representing the Mayor’s Office in this vital and timely conversation.

“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. “I am appreciative of the obvious diligence exerted to formulate the plan and am hopeful for the collaborative efforts that will be necessary to achieve the intended results.”

“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.”

“As an advocate for victims of crime, I see the critical role law enforcement plays every day,” said Margie Quin, CEO of End Slavery Tennessee. “We need to support law enforcement and continue to find ways to improve it. Trauma affects all of our communities. I am grateful to Mayor Cooper for his leadership on this issue.”

Mayor Cooper released the following statement in regard to the commission’s formation:

“Safety is the first responsibility of government,” said Cooper. “Every resident in our city deserves to be safe. No resident should fear the police or the criminal justice system.  Yet polls nationwide show that African American and Latinx communities do not have the same level of trust and confidence in police that white communities do.

“There are many reasons for this. The U.S. criminal justice system has oppressed Black Americans for more years than it has protected them. It continues to punish African Americans and people of color at disproportionate rates and in severe ways. Black men are more than twice as likely to be killed in an encounter with police as white men. Tactics such as ‘hot spot’ policing have sometimes been used too aggressively and too indiscriminately, without the buy-in or approval of the communities where they are used.

“Individual police officers did not make these policies. They did not decide to invest or not invest in behavioral health services, housing, and education. Elected officials did. But police officers have had to deal with the consequences.

“It is time to rethink that approach.

“In response to a call to action from President Barack Obama for cities to address use of force policies and practices, I have created the Policing Policy Commission (PPC). The first purpose of the Commission is to identify ways for the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to reduce the use of force. But it also has a broader purpose: to begin a community-wide process of reimagining how Nashville can build trust and enhance community safety.

“Recognize what our department does well and look for ways to build on those successes. Identify areas where our police department and our city fall short and where we can do better. Do so in a way that embraces and enhances transparency. Ask for public input as you explore these issues, document different points of view, and draft your report. That is my charge to you.

“The commission will meet for the first time next week. I would ask that you produce a report as quickly as possible and no later than the end of October. Your report will play an important role in the selection of the new Chief of Police. Metro HR will ask the finalists to respond in writing to your recommendations. Their responses will be shared with the interview panel, with me, and with the public at large. You are drafting the blueprint, which the next Chief of Police will build upon. After a new permanent Chief of Police is selected, I hope that each of you will take the lead in introducing her or him to the organizations and communities you represent.

“The many members of the Policing Policy Commission include:  Karl Dean, co-chair of Police Policy Commission, former mayor and public defender of Nashville; Richard Dinkins, Tenn. co-chair of Police Policy Commission, judge, Court of Appeals, state of Tennessee; Ashlee Davis, vice president, Alliance Bernstein, chair of Community Oversight Board; Robert Sherrill, CEO/founder, Imperial Cleaning Systems/ Impact Youth Outreach; and Lonnell Matthews, Juvenile Court Clerk, Davidson County Juvenile Courts.

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