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Metro creates policing policy commission to review MNPD’s use-of-force

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Posted at 10:47 AM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-16 06:36:02-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper says Metro has created a Policing Policy Commission to review the Metro Nashville Police Department’s use-of-force policies.

The mayor’s office made the announcement Friday, saying the commission will also develop “necessary reforms” in policing and public safety.

Metro formed the commission in response to the My Brother’s Keeper pledge, which calls for cities to review use of force policies, engage their communities by including a diverse range of input, report the findings back to the community and then reform those policies. Earlier this summer, former President Barack Obama called on mayors across the country to participate in the pledge.

Cooper asked the commission to form three committees, which will be organized by former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Judge Richard Dinkins. The three committees will be tasked with identifying the following:

  1. Serving Nashville’s Communities – which will look for ways for Metro police to better engage and partner with the community.
  2. Screening, Supervision, Resources and Recruitment – referring to the screening process of MNPD applicants.
  3. Policies, Tactics and Training – examine how MNPD’s policies and procedures compare to other police departments across the country.

Click here to read more about each committee.

Read below the full letter from Cooper announcing the commission:

Safety is the first responsibility of government. 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.

Thank you for your service to our community.

Warmest regards,

Mayor John Cooper