Mayor John Cooper has announced that John Drake will be Nashville’s next chief of police.
Drake took command of the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) on August 7 as ‘interim chief.’
“Nashville wants a chief who can make changes, build trust, and increase safety for all our residents,” Mayor John Cooper said. “I believe we have found the relationship builder we need in John Drake. During his time on the force and as interim chief, he has reached out to neighborhoods and communities across Nashville. He has shown he is committed to collaboration, transparency, and the dignity of every resident.”
Mayor Cooper will swear Drake in at a ceremony in Nashville later this year.
“We are fortunate to have a well-trained, professional police department of dedicated men and women in Nashville. Now is the time to build on that and go even further, together,” Mayor Cooper said. “Chief Drake will make the department into a national model for enhancing residents’ safety by building strong partnerships with our many communities and neighborhoods and reflecting that diversity within the department itself.”
As one of his first steps in his working relationship with the new chief, Mayor Cooper presented Drake with a report recently completed by the city’s Policing Policy Commission.
Cooper convened a 42-member commission of diverse Nashvillians to generate ideas for how to create a Nashville model for neighborhood policing, including reducing the use of force, building trust and enhancing public safety.
“The Policing Policy Commission’s report will serve as a guide for Chief Drake,” Cooper said. “We have a blueprint for making Nashville a national model for 21st Century policing, and it’s time to get to work.”
Cooper thanked Kristen Ziman, police chief for Aurora, Illinois; Troy Gay, chief of staff for the Austin Police Department; Darryl McSwain, chief of the Montgomery County division of Maryland-National Capital Park Police and Larry Scirotto, former assistant chief of professional standards with the Pittsburgh Police Department, for their applications.
“It’s time to make changes that have public service and organizational excellence at their core,” Chief Drake said. “I know if we work together and make our community the focus of everything we do, we’ll achieve a policing model that works for Nashville and even sets the tone nationally.”
Drake began his MNPD career as a patrol officer in the West Precinct in 1988. During this time, he managed a youth football league for the Police Athletic League and then a basketball league, which ultimately grew to more than 1,200 participants.
From patrol, he moved to narcotics. In 2007, Drake was promoted to sergeant and moved to the Office of Professional Accountability. He made lieutenant in 2010 and moved to Hermitage Precinct in South Nashville.
As the Hermitage Precinct shift supervisor, Drake led the investigations unit, overseeing detectives handling cases that ranged from homicide and robbery to burglary and theft. In 2014, Drake was promoted to captain and took command of the Domestic Violence Division, becoming the first male to head that division. He initiated several programs that continue there today, such as the brutality assessment protocol for first responders to assess the victim’s safety.
In 2015, Drake became commander of Central Precinct. In 2015, he became a Deputy Chief and took command of Support Services for the department, which includes the Special Operations Division, as well as custom services, parks and recreation, and facilities.
Earlier this year, Drake was promoted to Deputy Chief for Community Services, which includes more than 900 officers and detectives assigned to the city’s eight precincts.
As interim chief, Drake reformed the central homicide division, increased the number of diverse officers recruiting applicants to the department and encouraged precinct commanders to redeploy ‘flex’ units as neighborhood engagement teams.
Chief Drake also started a partnership with Nashville State Community College (NSCC), ‘Educating the Blue,’ that will open a pipeline to an MNPD career for NSCC students and provide MNPD officers the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in one year.
Drake played football, ran track, and wrestled at East High School, now Stratford STEM Magnet School, where he graduated in 1983. He graduated summa cum laude from Bethel University and is also a graduate of the Southeastern Command & Leadership Academy at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; the Police Executive Leadership Institute; the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Executive Institute.
Community Oversight Board looks forward to working with Chief Drake
The Community Oversight Board (COB) says that it looks forward to working more closely with newly appointed Chief Drake and the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to continue to improve public safety for the Nashville community.
The COB and Metro Nashville Community Oversight (MNCO) staff have worked tirelessly over the past two years to build a civilian oversight of law enforcement agency, but relations with the MNPD did not always match the community’s expectations for cooperation. However, with the construction of a new leadership hierarchy, the board and MNCO staff are looking forward to an improved working relationship between the departments.
“Chief Drake has publicly acknowledged the importance of cooperation between the board and the MNPD, emphasizing the duty we have as public servants to carry out the will of our community,” said COB Chair Andrés Martínez. “The board is committed to building upon the already improved relations with MNPD since Chief Drake began serving in the interim, and will continue striving for increased accountability, transparency, and trust.”
While in his role as interim Chief of Police, Drake promised to work through past points of tension with the board, including disagreements over public records, crime scene access and poor communication. So far, he has held up his word in working towards assisting the board in overcoming those hurdles.
“We have continued to make strides with MNPD and are looking forward to continuing the collaborative work that has been started under the leadership of Chief Drake,” said Executive Director Jill Fitcheard. “He has committed that he understands and supports the mission of the COB and the will of the Nashville voters, and that is to see the COB accomplish its goals and have continued success.”