Grassroots organization releases report on racial profiling - WSMV News 4

Grassroots organization releases report on racial profiling in Nashville

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Gideon's Army announced the results of the report to the media on Tuesday. (WSMV) Gideon's Army announced the results of the report to the media on Tuesday. (WSMV)

A grassroots organization aimed at improving opportunities for children has released a report focused on racial profiling in Nashville.

Gideon's Army says blacks have been overwhelmingly profiled on traffic stops and in communities.

The report's information comes from the Metro Nashville Police Department's database and interviews the group did with 20 black drivers. The group said they worked with researchers and community leaders to look through police reports and find trends.

They said during a press conference Tuesday that Metro police made seven times more traffic stops than the national average from 2011 to 2015, according to the report. They also claim Nashville police searched the cars of black drivers twice the rate of whites and found police profiled black drivers more often in minority and low-income communities than whites in middle- and upper-class communities. 

"In four short years, MNPD has stopped more black people than non-black people who live in Davidson County. We say no more," said Jahlani Smothers-Pugh with Gideon's Army. "We refuse to be harassed and criminalized anymore."

Click here to read the full report. (PDF)

Civil rights attorney Kyle Mothershead said he filed a complaint with the Department of Justice requesting a civil rights investigation. Gideon's Army said they plan to take the report to Metro police and city leaders to discuss options to reduce profiling.

Metro police issued the following statement concerning the report:

The MNPD has been collecting and analyzing traffic stop data for a number of years. Here is a link to the detailed annual reports on this analysis since 2008, with maps included.

Nashville police officers are deployed at a higher degree to where the victims of crime are, in other words, to areas where there is a higher prevalence of crime and higher requests for police services. You have likely seen the crime density maps and statistical information provided to members of the Metro Council at last Tuesday’s discussion of gun violence. I am attaching that report in the event you do not have it. (Click here to read report.) As you compare the density maps, you see a correlation in the geographical areas of crime and vehicle stops.

Officers of the MNPD are encouraged to be proactive and visible, and to make lawful vehicle stops when warranted. It is true that, on average, 80% or so of vehicle stops result in warnings only. In Nashville, vehicle stops are not about tickets, but to enhance safety through warnings AND to better protect the community. There are more officers, including Flex Units, deployed in higher crime areas at the discretion of precinct commanders. Because of the emphasis placed on higher crime areas (those areas with a higher prevalence of victims) more proactive work, including traffic stops, occurs in those areas.

You have likely heard the phrase, “looking beyond the stop.” MNPD officers do that, and have discovered firearms, other evidence of crimes, and wanted felons during vehicle stops. The MNPD believes vehicle stops are an effective tool in the continuing effort to enhance Nashville’s safety for all citizens, certainly including those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The MNPD is committed to working with the neighborhoods to enhance safety and improve quality of life FOR ALL. Each of our 8 precincts has a Community Coordinating Sergeant. These people attend literally hundreds of meetings in communities each year.

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