Metro police chief responds to 'driving while black' report - WSMV Channel 4

Metro police chief responds to 'driving while black' report

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Metro police are feeling some pressure from a recent report released by an activist group.

The 215-page report by Gideon’s Army claims Metro police are profiling when it comes to traffic stops.

On Monday, in a special called Metro Council meeting, police were ready to answer questions.

According to the report, black drivers are disproportionately stopped and searched and are three times more likely to get ticketed than white people.

“We try try to focus in the areas where we see the problems,” said Metro Police Commander Terrence Graves.

Police Chief Steve Anderson was not at the meeting, but he did send a letter to all council members beforehand.

It read, in part:

That there are disparities is readily apparent.  However, this data, or analysis of it, will not reveal the cause or reason for these disparities.  This is a larger social issue we, all of Nashville must work together to understand and remedy.

Anderson says African-Americans make up the majority of homicide, street robbery and aggravated assault suspects, but they also make up the majority of victims.

As examples, the African-American population in Nashville represents:

  • 76 percent of the homicide victims
  • 40 percent of the street robbery victims
  • 27 percent of the bank robbery victims
  • 29 percent of the market robbery victims
  • 57 percent of the total aggravated assault victims
  • 82 percent of the gunshot injury victims
  • 50 percent of the total violent crime victims
  • 58 percent of the homicide suspects
  • 76 percent of the street robbery suspects
  • 88 percent of the bank robbery suspects
  • 84 percent of the market robbery suspects
  • 60 percent of the total aggravated assault suspects
  • 65 percent of the gunshot injury suspects
  • 66 percent of the total violent crime suspects

"At least we know moving forward what the perception is, and we are trying to work on it,” said Graves.

Police declined to go on camera after the meeting to discuss how they feel the meeting went, but at least some community members were not happy.

“This was ridiculous. I was not pleased with the dialogue whatsoever,” said parent Keena Day.

Day’s son will get his driver's license soon. She says the numbers in the Gideon’s Army report worry her.

“I don't want him to have a broken tail light and that's the end of his life,” said Day.

Day felt Monday’s meeting was rushed and didn't provide the answers she was looking for.

While the city said this is just the start of much more dialogue to come, some are inpatient.

“We all want to avoid a Ferguson, and so, the urgency is there,” said Gideon’s Army Founder Rasheedat Fetuga.

Anderson also wrote in his letter that the MNPD recruit training program goes beyond what the state mandates. He said his officers receive both implicit bias training and lessons about Nashville's civil rights history.

Click here to read the full report from Gideon's Army (PDF).

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