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Mayor's Use Of Security May Have Violated MNPD Policy

Posted: 6:44 PM, Feb 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-27 13:00:30-05
Mayor's Use Of Security May Have Violated MNPD Policy

For weeks, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has insisted she was just following police department policies for her security.

But now, with the TBI digging into her two-year affair with her police bodyguard, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has discovered her claims could face serious questions.

It turns out, there was actually a written policy -- and it looks a lot different from what the mayor suggested.

Over and over, Barry had claimed that "the detail security policy is set by the police department. They say I have to travel with security."

When it came to the amount of security provided by Rob Forrest, the police sergeant with whom she had a two-year affair, the mayor repeatedly tried to put the blame back on the police.

"I think Sergeant Forrest did his job, and I think that he did it with what was the policy of the police," Barry told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

"The police policy about security detail are determined on the police side," she later added.

When pressed, she continued: "What this reflects, again, is the policy that the police have."

But the official policy for dignitary protection, obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, raises questions about that story.

That policy only provides that the security detail "will accompany the Mayor on official government outings and trips."

 

"Official government outings -- is there a definition for that? What exactly is that?" asked Metro Council member Jim Shulman.

Our investigation discovered that, when Barry went out to nightclubs in the evening, Forrest was there, charging taxpayers for overtime.

When she traveled down to Bonnaroo the night U2 was playing, the police bodyguard was also there.

And for her Hot Yoga sessions on Saturday mornings, you paid for Forrest to drive her there as well.

"I think you have to go back and figure out why the police department allowed this to happen," Shulman said.

"Were they at all aware, or did they just turn it over because they thought that was the right thing to do?"

Barry's schedule also reflects going out for private dinners with friends like Nashville actress Connie Britton.

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When we spoke with the police chief, he was deferential to his boss.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So if she goes out for a private dinner, does she need a sworn police officer with her?"

"You know, we've sort of drawn the line there," Chief Steve Anderson said. "I've left that up to this mayor and the previous mayor."

Shulman's response: "Responsibility lies with the head of that department, so in this case it would lie with the police department and the police chief."

Then, there are the trips, like one to New York, Paris and Athens, Greece.

The official policy says commercial air travel must be approved by the captain over the unit and the chief of police -- a policy that Forrest's old bosses now admit was never followed.

Metro Police spokesperson Don Aaron said Capt. Mike Alexander would sometimes find out about trips that Forrest took right before he left.

"Sometimes, he would not know until just after," Aaron said. "But he was not a part of any approval process."

Shulman said, "I think we have to go back and so do they and go how do we prevent this from happening again."

In fact, the police spokesperson said the department is already taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Aaron explained in the following email statement:

To ensure that the Specialized Investigations Division (SID) chain of command is aware of any air travel related to mayoral security, members of the detail are being instructed to convey such information to the appropriate SID lieutenant and the SID captain as soon as detail members become aware of the probability of such travel.  It is also anticipated that Metro IT is fixing the reported computer issue that prevented notice of travel authorization requests concerning the mayoral detail from being sent to Chief Anderson in the normal electronic routing process.
 
Scheduling of the mayoral detail is now being done by Sergeant Chris West, who was assigned as the MNPD’s supervisor in the Mayor’s Office upon the retirement of Rob Forrest.  The mayoral detail is tasked with staffing the daily mayoral schedule as provided by the Mayor’s Office, with the understanding that the mayoral schedule can be fluid, with the potential for some items being added and some being taken away at the last minute.  These people have no control over the mayoral schedule, but, again, are tasked with staffing it.
 
Sergeant West is arranging the schedule with an awareness of overtime issues; however, the length and complexity of the mayoral daily schedule does not allow for overtime to be avoided.  Sergeant West has arranged for one of the full-time detail members, on a rotating basis, to come in later every day so that individual can cover the afternoon/evening hours with minimal overtime if any at all.  He also has detail members alternating weekend days.  Still, two members of the detail staff the mayor’s schedule, even on weekends, with one person driving the mayor and the second person doing advance work at the upcoming location.
 
There are 3 persons from the Specialized Investigations Division who are handling security full-time (Sergeant West & Detectives Dixon & Akin).  A fourth person, Detective Phothirath, splitting his time between the mayoral detail and other SID tasks (which include reviewing hate crime reports & filling in as necessary in the Crime Stoppers area).