Metro Nashville Police Dept. reducing physical arrests amid COVID-19 outbreak

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Posted at 7:18 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 20:18:56-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Police officers have been directed to use their discretion in regards to arrests during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chief Steve Anderson made the announcement Thursday evening, urging officers to use state citations instead of physical arrests for misdemeanor offenses to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Most misdemeanor offenses, domestic assault and DUI excluded, qualify for the issuance of citations so long as the defendant is able to prove his/her identity.

People who are given citations will be given a future booking date on which they are required to appear at the Sheriff’s Office facility downtown to be photographed, fingerprinted, and receive a court date. Anyone committing a felony will continue to be physically arrested and taken to jail.

Officers were also told to serve outstanding misdemeanor arrest warrants with citations rather than physical arrests (domestic violence arrest warrants excluded). Chief Anderson said the District Attorney’s Office, the General Sessions and Criminal Courts agree this temporary action is necessary to help reduce spread of COVID-19.

In similar fashion, the Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced he initiated plans to reduce the number of inmates in custody at the sheriff's office, including the expansion of pre-trial release (PTR) criteria and elimination of the work release program.

PTR participants are expected to double over the next few days and all work release inmates are being furloughed immediately.

“Additionally, I am working with Chief Public Defender Martesha Johnson by providing her lists of medically high-risk individuals who may qualify for release, including pregnant inmates,” Hall said. “As sheriff, I am working to reduce the number of individuals in our custody and it’s imperative all criminal justice leaders do the same."

Hall emphasized in these unprecedented times, we must take bold action and the system cannot continue to operate under a “business as usual” mindset.

“As stated last week, we fully expect to have COVID-19 positive cases in our facilities. It’s critical we reduce the inmate population now. As criminal justice leaders we need to take action because of the serious impact this virus will have on sheriff’s office staff and inmates.”