NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – “Warner, in the RV, with a bomb.” That’s the title of Councilman Bob Mendes’s lengthy New Years Eve blog post to offer hope for Nashville going into 2021 and air frustrations of the revelation that Anthony Warner had the police called on him in August 2019 because his girlfriend thought he was making bombs in his RV.

In the post, Mendes calls the 2019 response objectively a failure and said “My opinion is that anyone who this that a report of a bomb making by a 30 year old black Muslim man at a house in Green Hills wouldn’t have caused a different level of investigation is mistaken.”

He also questioned the timeline of when police realized Warner was reported in 2019 following the Christmas Day bombing.

His full blog can be seen here

James Smallwood, the President of the Fraternal Order of Police wrote a letter to Mendes on News Years Eve about comments he made over the last week. He said they were “shocked” and “appalled.”

Smallwood wrote that the allegations paint every police officer in the city as a racist and said, “Your suggestion that we would have minimized our response to any issue – much less one as significant as a bombing – based on race, is absolutely abhorrent and ludicrous.”

He went on to say that Mendes’ comments will have untold repercussions in the community and asks that he issue a retraction and apologize to all the officers on the police department.

Councilman Mendes sent a note back to Smallwood that said:

Thanks, James, for the letter. I always appreciate hearing from you all.

I recall hearing similar criticism from you all several years ago when I was supporting the authors of the Driving While Black report and then again when I was supporting the Community Oversight Board referendum. Your leadership team expressed similar concerns when I came to interview about an endorsement in the 2019 election cycle.

I offer the same explanation now that I have done in the past -- I work to aim my comments at leadership, and not officers on duty who risk their lives for Nashville. I work to talk about policies and procedures and systems, and not the line officers who implement those policies and procedures. I work to talk about implicit, unconscious bias. Not every media source always quotes the full context of my comments. Regardless, I disagree with how your letter this evening describes my viewpoint.

Earlier this evening, I put up a blog post that I will update as more information comes out. It tries to provide more of the context that is understandably missing from media reports. Based on our experiences with Driving While Black and the referendum, my guess is that your union leadership still will not be satisfied after reading it. I hope otherwise though.

Despite our disagreements, I will continue to lead the effort to get better pay and benefits for officers because they deserve it. I regret that my budgets in 2018 and 2019 didn't pass. I am glad we got it done in 2020. Hopefully, we can continue to improve pay for all officers.

If you have follow-up questions, let me know.

Bob

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