In-Depth: Why Metro Police is supporting Metro Charter Amendment 2

Metro Police shoulder patch on officer, Nashville MNPD
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 19:24:21-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When early voting starts this Friday, it will be the longest ballot in Nashville history. That's partially because there are four lengthy Metro Charter amendments on the ballot.

Amendment Two changes the qualifications it takes to be a Metro Nashville Police officer. According to a top lieutenant, lowering the threshold may actually increase the quality of officers on our streets.

Only a fraction of Metro recruits even make it to the training stage at the police academy.

"Say there’s 35 people on there. Of those 35, we may get 12-15 who pass," said Michael Vaughn, an MNPD Lieutenant over Background and Recruitment.

The reason might come as a surprise.

"The standards they go by are the Army and Navy standards, which are, in our opinion, outdated. Not something we should be going by," said Vaughn.

In Metro's charter, it requires officer candidates to pass military-grade physical requirements that go way beyond fitness, including skin conditions and childhood asthma.

"Even if you’re not on an inhaler, and you grew out of asthma," said Vaughn.

But even when it comes to physical ability, Vaughn wants the department to have more flexibility.

"There are people here that are not in tip-top shape that are great officers. I don’t think your physical shape should make or break whether you can do this job or not because that’s just not the case anymore," he said.

He credits that to a larger shift already underway at MNPD.

"Part of what we’re moving toward is getting away from being so militaristic. And if we’re not going to be militaristic, then we don’t really need the Army Navy standards because that falls under the military," said Vaughn.

Vaughn says the main push behind this charter amendment is recruiting. MNPD is currently 160 officers short of the minimum number Metro Council expects them to maintain.

"You know, it’s a really big hang-up for us," he said. "If we can change the standards, I think we’ll get a lot more people through that are qualified."

The hope is that they'll hold onto a lot more recruits from the very beginning.

"You’re still going to have to meet a standard, but we’re just not holding you to the Army-Navy standards," said Vaughn.

So what would new requirements look like, if the amendment passes?

Metro Police don't know because they haven't been written yet. According to Metro Nashville's Director of Human Resources, Shannon Hall, if Amendment Two passes, Metro's Civil Service Commission will hold a thorough, public process to draft those new physical qualifications.