Nashville Mayor Brings In New York Organization, Again, To Recalibrate Policing | Nashville Public Radio

Nashville Mayor Brings In New York Organization, Again, To Recalibrate Policing

Aug 9, 2018

In the wake of Nashville's second fatal police shooting in 18 months, Mayor David Briley says he's bringing in outside help to work on reforming the city's approach to policing. The initiative has been slow to get off the ground, but those involved say it's ramping up.

The New York-based Policing Project has worked with cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Los Angeles on a host of police reforms, ranging from community engagement, to body cameras, to new use of force policies.

The Policing Project was first brought in by former Mayor Megan Barry after the 2017 fatal shooting of Jocques Clemmons. When she resigned, work ground to a halt.

But Nashville's new mayor, David Briley told WPLN on Thursday he had re-engaged the group, even before the fatal shooting of Daniel Hambrick late last month.

Farhang Heydari, a deputy director of the organization, says for the past few months the group has been analyzing Nashville's police data on traffic stops "to get a sense of whether they're effective in fighting crime and whether there are disparities in outcomes between race, gender, location all those things," Heydari says.

Last year a wide-ranging report found that Metro Nashville Police stop black drivers far more often than white drivers.

The aim of the analysis is to recalibrate the department's style of policing. Briley says their work will focus on things like traffic stops and de-escalation strategies, targeting policies and practices that will reform police behavior on the front end, rather than once it's too late. 

"It's a question of adjusting what we're currently doing to a better way of policing," Briley says.

The Mayor's office says they have a contract to pay the Policing Project $175,000 for its initial work, and any subsequent work will be paid for with donations.