Metro Police Seek To Diversify Force

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jul 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-19 21:26:48-04

It's an issue no one is disputing. The Metro Nashville Police Department lacks diversity. Many large departments around the U.S. face the same challenge.

"That fight, that struggle has continued at least since I've been on the department so I know it's been going on for 20 something years," said Reggie Miller. 

Miller served on Metro's police force from 1988 to 2015, until becoming the president of the Eastern Region's National Black Police Association.

He knows the recruitment process is imperative, but that comes with challenges too.

"I think a part of the discouraging thing is that a lot of the minorities don't see minorities, so they don't feel like that may be a comfortable feeling," said Miller. 

Surveys show Nashville's Caucasian population makes up more than 50 percent of the general public and 85 percent of the police force. African Americans make up about 28 percent of the general public and 12 percent of the force. However, it's more than just black and white.

According to former Interim Human Relations Commission Director Tom Negri, between 2035 and 2040, Nashville's Latino population has been projected to grow 40 percent.

"We can look, potentially, out of market to see if there are some places we can recruit a more diverse applicant pool," said Chief Diversity Officer Michelle Hernandez-Lane. 

The department has actively worked to recruit minorities and looked into cases where they have been rejected.

"Chief Anderson does a really good job of that already now. He personally has committed to looking at those applicants that have been rejected and understand what those causes are," said Hernandez-Lane. 

Officials said a lack of diversity is a challenge, but one Nashville officials are ready to take on.

"Let's make it work by involving everybody," said Miller.