Carley Gordon joined the News4 team as a reporter in 2009. Carley currently covers the crime beat around Middle Tennessee.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro paid to train police recruits so they could protect the community.

A News4 I-Team investigation exposes just how many new police recruits are leaving Nashville shortly after completing training.

The I-Team also uncovered the staggering amount it has cost to train new recruits who are no longer serving the city.

Corey Oakley graduated fifth in his class from the Metro Police Academy.

Just eight months after graduation, he left, opting to work for the Lebanon Police Department instead.

Oakley isn’t alone.

Out of the last 503 officers hired in the last five years by Metro, nearly 15% have since left the department.

“It’s a staggering number,” said Nashville FOP President James Smallwood.

Smallwood said it’s the highest level of loss the department has seen in years.

He blamed low salaries and lack of support for new recruits.

In many cases, he said the new officers are doing what Oakley did, leaving to work for smaller departments, sometimes making less money.

“That is also concerning if you’re willing to step away and make a few dollars less an hour that tells me that there’s an issue with the amount of support they’re getting from their administration,” said Smallwood.

It takes 12 months to put an officer through the academy and training. That’s about $70,000 per officer.

If you do the math, that’s about $5 million invested in officers trained that aren’t serving Nashville now.

“Well you know the folks downtown should be paying attention to that. That’s a very big concern,” said Smallwood.

The data doesn’t show why all of the officers are leaving. Some are having medical issues, others are being fired.

Nashville isn’t the only city with a similar population facing this problem.

In Charlotte, NC, of the 543 that have recently graduated from its police academy, 11% have left.

That’s still less than the 15% that have left Nashville.

News4 asked Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson for an interview, but he wasn’t available.

His office released a statement, reading in part:

“We need to do everything we can to attract police officers to Nashville, and that includes increasing the starting pay, as other cities have done.”

“Raising the salaries of the people coming in the front door does nothing to keep the people who are already here here,” said Smallwood.

Smallwood said it’s a matter of public safety.

He said Nashville needs to do something about the problem and soon.

“The long-term effect is the higher rate of crime, longer service times, longer response times, and that’s why you should care. It’s a critical issue for our city,” said Smallwood.

News4 reached out to Oakley, the recruit who left soon after graduation. He did not want to do an interview to explain why he took a new job.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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