NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake announced the department will be taking steps to help reduce gun violence by deploying more officers and creating an office to work more closely with community groups.
Drake was joined by Mayor John Cooper for Monday's announcement, which focused on police reform and ways to reduce and prevent gun violence.
Drake said the department is taking steps to reduce violent crimes by redeploying 80 police officers to precincts across the county. Their goal is to have officers on the streets between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. -- when crimes typically occur. Nine officers will report to one sergeant at each of the eight precincts.
"We can let people know that we're not only trying to react to a crime but prevent it from happening. I think this is a good approach and it's going to take us a long way to reducing the violence," Drake said.
Chief Drake also announced the creation of the department's first-ever Office of Alternative Policing Strategies. The office will be led by Commander David Imhof, a 28-year veteran who recently received a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Imhof will work with the mayor's office, juvenile courts, mental health providers, and non-profits, among others.
"The goal is to refine ways for all of us to meaningfully intervene in the lives of young people and those in vulnerable populations whose illegal infractions are indicative of becoming more serious," Drake said.
Both Mayor Cooper and Chief Drake agreed that prevention is just one approach for taking on the issue of violent crime. Chief Drake said he planned to prioritize solving crimes to raise the city's homicide clearance rate.
Since October, Chief Drake said their newly revamped 29-member centralized homicide unit has already developed leads on all but three murder cases. To help supplement the work of the homicide unit, Metro PD also created 6 TITANS teams or The Investigation Team Addressing Neighborhood Shootings.
Each team is made up of seven members formed through re-purposing the gang unit, detectives, and the juvenile task force officers. TITANS respond to serious shootings and "work to develop intelligence on persons responsible."
Chief Drake said the TITANS have already proved useful, as they tracked down the suspects connected to the shooting death of Caitlyn Kaufman.
"We have focused more resources responding to the scenes of homicides and serious gun crimes than ever before to arrest those responsible," Drake said.
Mayor Cooper commended Chief Drake for making immediate policy changes following one of the deadliest January's we've seen in years. NewsChannel 5 keeps an independent count on homicides in the city. There were eleven homicides last month. For perspective, there were just five in Jan. 2019 and seven this time last year.
Metro reported 98 gun-related homicides in 2020 -- up from 62 a year before that. The number of gun-related deaths may not be as high as what we saw from other cities, but Mayor Cooper said it was still unacceptable.
The changes heard on Monday adds to Metro PD's Policing Policy Commission response. The group established this past August, was created to "review use-of-force policies in the department and develop necessary reforms to set a new national standard in policing and public safety."
In November, the group completed their review of Metro PD using more than 66 hours of deliberations and interviews with 40 Nashvillians.
You can find the commission report and the response by Metro PD here: https://www.nashville.gov/Portals/0/SiteContent/Police/docs/ppc/PolicingPolicyCommissionReport-210120.pdf