To Reduce Shootings, Nashville Police Chief Turns To Social Science | Nashville Public Radio

To Reduce Shootings, Nashville Police Chief Turns To Social Science

Oct 18, 2016

After a recent spike in Nashville’s gun violence, Police Chief Steve Anderson and Health Director Bill Paul, appeared before the Metro Council Tuesday night. They discussed the numbers behind the shootings and how the city plans to combat them.  

The special hearing was initiated by Vice Mayor David Briley, who has expressed concerns about the latest surge in gun violence. In September alone, nine people were shot and killed in Nashville. That’s a big number for a city averaging about 42 gun deaths a year. 

At the meeting, Chief Anderson outlined the statistics, but he also talked about the complexity of modern policing when it comes to gun violence, which disproportionately impacts poor minority residents.

"Police work has turned into more psychology and sociology than actually crime fighting. So that is where we all need to be," Anderson said. 

Nashville homicides from gun violence rose by eight percent since 2010, according to police. And after a record low, shooting deaths surged by 80 percent last year, causing Nashville to rank second for the highest percentage increase in murders nationally. That’s according to data from the FBI and the Washington Post.

Anderson pointed out that while homicides are up, the shooting numbers have stayed relatively steady. 

Council member Sharon Hurt said the type of firearms may have more to do with the murder rate than residents realize. 

“When you got bigger guns, you got more homicides,” Hurt said. “People are not shooting with .22’s anymore.”

Metro Council members pressed Anderson for ideas about how to improve community policing by talking more about race, hiring more minority police officers and improving after school options in violence-plagued neighborhoods. 

Vice Mayor Briley said the council will continue the hearings in the coming month around the city, focusing on areas most affected by gun violence. 

Read the report presented at the meeting here.