In light of the Black Lives Matter protests throughout the city over the weekend, Mayor Megan Barry released the following statement regarding police services in the city.
In it, she recognized the MNPD Chief of Police Steve Anderson as being one who has "developed a reputation for being very firm when it comes to holding officers accountable for wrongful actions and promoting a culture of discipline and community responsiveness." Still, the Mayor acknowledged there is always work to be done. A contingent of Nashville officials and employees are traveling to California in order to learn more about restorative justice programs that support rehabilitation efforts for offenders.
Read the full statement:
Over the past week, our nation has been shaken by senseless acts of violence. The killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, followed by the killing of five officers in Dallas, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Sergeant Michael Smith, Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens and DART Officer Brent Thompson, who were engaged in protecting peaceful protestors each greatly impacted the hearts and minds of our citizens.
In order to show our condolences as a city, I have setup signature books in the lobby of the Historic Metro Courthouse for the public to share their love and support for the friends, family, and co-workers of Mr. Sterling, Mr. Castile, and the Dallas police officers. Additionally, signature cards will be placed in various Nashville Public Libraries where members of the community can show their support.
We have heard from many throughout the community who are concerned about police actions in other cities that have claimed the lives of black men and women, and want to know what we are doing to ensure that doesn’t happen in our city.
While we can’t guarantee an incident like this could never occur in Nashville, we can continue to promote a culture of responsible, community-oriented policing that builds trust and support among all Nashvillians.
MNPD Police Chief Steve Anderson has been a strong leader in making sure our police are highly trained in de-escalation tactics to avoid ever having to use a firearm, as well as implicit bias training so that officers understand how racial or other biases could negatively impact how they do their job. He has also developed a reputation for being very firm when it comes to holding officers accountable for wrongful actions and promoting a culture of discipline and community responsiveness that has served as a model for police departments in other parts of the country.
Having said that, we know there may be more things we can do as a city and as a society to ensure that we have a fair and just criminal justice system free from bias and that is built on community support and trust.
On Tuesday, a delegation of Davidson County officials and Metro employees, including Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway, District Attorney General Glenn Funk, Public Defender Dawn Deaner, and Captain Gordon Howey of the Metro Nashville Police Department, among others, will travel to Oakland, CA to visit with sujatha baliga, vice president and director of Impact Justice’s Restorative Justice Project. The delegation will seek to learn more about best practices on implementing restorative justice programs that focus on rehabilitation of offenders in a way that reduces recidivism and helps turn around the lives of those formerly incarcerated.
Throughout the coming days, weeks, and months, I will be working with my team, Metro officials, and community leaders on ways to promote broader community engagement on topics related to restorative justice, criminal justice reforms, and how we Nashville can all better serve the community to ensure everyone feels safe, respected, and hopeful for the future.