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Why Nashville's crime rate has fallen
Photo by Jacob Morch / Unsplash

Why Nashville's crime rate has fallen

馃殧 Traditional policing works 路 Budget priorities 路聽Free facts聽路聽The week in streaming 路聽Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

I can鈥檛 stop laughing at the Metro Council鈥檚 anti-Morgan Wallen jihad. If their public statements on Twitter mean anything, they seem completely oblivious to how the average person perceives their vote. Part of me expected at least one saner voice to prevail, but no. The entire body has repeatedly shown a willingness to treat constituents differently based on their perceived beliefs.

A great example is the council鈥檚 willingness to grant a $450,000 settlement to a black firefighter, Joshua Black, who was suspended after he called the Metro Council "white supremacists" at the beginning of 2022. But earlier this year, the council denied a white firefighter a $105,000 settlement after he was demoted for posts on social media calling BLM protestors 鈥渢hugs鈥 and saying they were "the stupidest people on the planet" during the summer of 2020. That denial has bloomed into a lawsuit that will likely result in a bigger settlement.

On the newsletter front, Jerod furnishes some great streaming recommendations down in Off the Cuff. Be sure to check those out.

Onward.

Back in February, MNPD began Operation 72, an initiative dedicated to investigating car thefts in Nashville. Since its inception, every police precinct has enlisted detectives from their respective field intelligence teams to focus on 鈥渞ecovering stolen vehicles, identifying thieves, and advancing any other criminal investigations that may be associated with the stolen vehicles,鈥 according to MNPD Public Affairs Director Don Aaron.

The director attributed the downward trend of Nashville鈥檚 crime rate to this precision policing method, noting that since February, it has resulted 鈥渋n the recovery of 238 stolen or carjacked vehicles and 101 firearms.鈥 Additionally, he says, 鈥421 arrests have been made on more than 800 felony charges and nearly 700 misdemeanor offenses.鈥 

Indeed, there were 259 fewer cars stolen between March and May this year compared to the same timeframe last year; similarly, the amount of guns stolen from vehicles has fallen by 35 percent. MNPD doesn't just anticipate a significant decrease in auto theft throughout the rest of the year, it expects to see a measured decrease in other violent crimes as well. 鈥淲e know that a person who steals a car is oftentimes going to be involved in other criminal acts鈥 from perhaps auto burglaries, to the theft of other vehicles, to even robberies,鈥 explained Director Aaron. This correlation is why the police chose to hone in on car break-ins and thefts. 鈥淧recision policing essentially means that you're working to identify and hold accountable those persons in the community who are committing acts of violence,鈥 said Aaron, 鈥渙r who, in other ways, are disrupting positive quality of life.鈥 

MNPD knows what works, and so does Mayor O鈥機onnell. 鈥淵ou may know the Metro Nashville Police Department has started a special focus on car theft,鈥 he said during last Friday鈥檚 roundtable. 鈥淎nd actually, they're seeing鈥攕ince that initiative started in February鈥攄ownward pressure again on the car theft process.鈥

According to Manhattan Institute fellow Charles Fain Lehman, there鈥檚 a distinct difference between the approaches that help mitigate property crime versus those that reduce violent crime. 鈥淰iolent crime is not really about deprivation, per se,鈥 Lehman explained. 鈥淚t's about鈥eing stuck in these networks of norms. You get these very tight networks鈥here there's low enough social control, you have just enough young impulsive men, and you have just enough access to guns.鈥 

Unfortunately, whenever a police department in a major city implements an effective strategy to target criminal behavior, it鈥檚 only a matter of time before the efficacy of that strategy is called into question. 鈥淲hen you look at Chicago, they ran something called the Strategic Subject List, where they identified the鈥ost prolific offenders in the city and the PD was tracking them,鈥 said Lehman.  鈥淎nd, unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the guys on there were young black men. And that was not popular with the ACLU, and the agency all got shut down.鈥

Lehman鈥檚 example isn鈥檛 far off from what has played out in Memphis over the last few years. In 2023, the Memphis City Council passed a bill restricting the police鈥檚 ability to make low-level traffic stops. The council felt justified in making the change following the death of Tyre Nichols, but local authorities have argued that routine traffic stops are crucial in keeping communities safe. Though activists scoured police statistics for proof that 鈥減retextual鈥 stops disproportionately target black drivers, the DOJ hasn鈥檛 found evidence showing 鈥減atterns of discriminatory police work鈥 in the Memphis Police Department. The governor has since signed a law nullifying the Memphis Council鈥檚 鈥淒riving Equality Act鈥 by prohibiting local governments from limiting law enforcement鈥檚 routine traffic stops. 

鈥淲e know that police presence is not only something that matters from a community's perception perspective,鈥 said O鈥機onnell, 鈥渂ut it really does have an impact on crime rates.鈥 Despite his emphasis on using community-based programs to improve high-crime areas, most of these programs have yet to come online. The initiative O鈥機onnell named as having the most significant impact on Davidson County was the Partners In Care Program, which sends a clinical mental health provider to accompany police officers on certain law enforcement calls.

Of course, any cop could tell you there鈥檚 an easy way to strengthen relationships between communities and law enforcement without adding any new, multi-million dollar non-profit initiatives: assigning officers to a regular beat. According to one MNPD officer, patrol and shift assignments were once routine and efficient, but became scattered and disengaging after Summer 2020. Now, instead of encouraging proactive and preventative policing by placing officers in familiar settings, the department moves them all around the city, fracturing the foundational trust they were once able to establish in neighborhoods. 鈥淚t's all been scaled back and now they're doing community-related [initiatives, like] dealing with the homeless,鈥 said the officer in an interview with the Pamphleteer in 2022. 

We鈥檝e seen what works. We know what works. But, is there a will to stay focused on what's effective in the face of political pushback?

MEGAN PODSIEDLIK



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Nashville

馃挵 Budget Priorities As budget discussions in the city pick up speed, there are two items that stick out to us regarding schools.

 MNPD has requested $2.58 million to fill 18 positions on its Rapid School Safety Team. Created in the aftermath of the Covenant tragedy, the RSST is currently staffed by officers pulled from other assignments. The department believes the additional money will allow them to fund a full-time dedicated RSST while also filling other vacant positions. Last week, Chief Drake told the council that MNPD was short 153 officers鈥 though 61 have enrolledy in the police academy, which will bring that number under 100.

Meanwhile, MNPS faces a fiscal cliff as ESSER funding doled out during Covid dries up in June. The school system accepted $66 million in federal grant funding, which it is seeking to bridge, and has requested an additional $11.8 million from the city. According to a Nashville Scene report, 鈥淲hile the district used much of the ESSER funds for one-time costs such as building repairs, it also used them to hire more school nurses and counselors and to develop a larger infrastructure to support social and emotional learning among students.鈥 DAVIS HUNT

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馃搳 Vandy Poll Insights Yesterday, we made quick mention of the recent Vanderbilt snapshot poll. Here are a few more stats that caught our eye.

The most popular answer to what should be Tennessee government鈥檚 top priority was 鈥渆conomy and jobs, excluding inflation鈥 (16 percent). This was followed by education (14 percent), inflation (13 percent), immigration (12 percent), infrastructure (11 percent), and gun control (10 percent). 

As for school vouchers, the electorate is still split. While 45 percent said they support tax-funded vouchers, 46 percent said they鈥檙e opposed. Likewise, 49 percent said they would likely use a voucher, while 50 percent said it鈥檚 unlikely. Interestingly, the support and opposition to a voucher system is evenly dispersed across rural, suburban, and urban communities. 

Unsurprisingly, almost everyone thinks democracy is under attack. Of those polled, 63 percent agreed that American democracy is under attack, 29 percent said that it鈥檚 being tested but isn鈥檛 鈥渦nder attack,鈥 and a measly 5 percent don鈥檛 think American democracy is in danger. Of those who think democracy is indeed under attack, the total was made up by 57 percent of the 鈥渘on-MAGA鈥 Republicans who weighed in, 78 percent of the鈥淢AGA鈥 Republicans, 62 percent of the Democrats, and 57 percent of the Independants. MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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馃崝 Fast and Free Facts Lebanon is the country鈥檚 12th fastest growing city, according to recent data from the Census Bureau. From July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023, the city grew by 8.9 percent. 鈥淭hirteen of the fifteen fastest-growing cities were in the South, with eight in Texas alone,鈥 read a Census Bureau news release. 

Surprising none but the most cynical among us, the state鈥檚 Court of Appeals ruled that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency鈥檚 practice of installing cameras on private property to surveil for violations of hunting, fishing and wildlife laws without a warrant was unconstitutional. The Tennessee Lookout鈥檚 Anita Wadhwani did some great reporting on this.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell was in town Tuesday for the signing of the Smart Heart Act at Pearl-Cohn. He didn鈥檛 give any word on whether or not Nashville would get a Super Bowl, saying that the main Nashville focus for him right now is getting the new stadium built (speaking of, here鈥檚 a cool time lapse of what the construction will look like).

And, finally, Morgan Wallen鈥檚 bar opens this weekend. After the sign debacle, I fully expect what was going to be a hectic opening weekend even more chaotic. Be warned. DAVIS HUNT

DEVELOPMENT

  • Updates set for Wedgewood-Houston building housing Jackalope (Post)
  • Cocktail bar, Coral Club, to open on east side (Post)
  • West Trinity Lane land listed for sale (Post)
Off the Cuff

鉁 THIS WEEK IN STREAMING

Our recommendations to help counteract the endless scrolling.

A Man in Full (Netflix) The greatest sign that American culture still has a future is that a streaming giant like Netflix would fund a mega budget adaptation of a Tom Wolfe book in 2024. Sure, they probably thought adapting his 1998 novel about a real estate mogul (Jeff Daniels) defending his empire from all sides as his enemies orchestrate a fall from grace would have some resonance in Trump鈥檚 mugshot era. But, as is true of anything written by the man in the white suit, it鈥檚 not quite the resonance they intended. As the polarized reviews indicate, the six-part miniseries is the type of feather-ruffling mainstream prestige work we rarely get anymore

The Iron Claw (Max) This gritty retelling of the rise and tragic fall of the Von Erich wrestling dynasty finally makes its way to streaming. Zac Efron approaches Day Lewis levels of artistry as the Texas clan鈥檚 elder brother torn between the quest for stardom his father drilled into him and the well-being of his kid brothers forced to follow in the old man鈥檚 footsteps. Sean Durkin has long been American indie film鈥檚 most unassuming talent. As we wrote upon the film鈥檚 theatrical release, he鈥檚 also a master of deplorable mythology.  

Late Night with the Devil (AMC+) This instant classic of found-footage horror made box office waves this spring for its 70s talk show sheen and star-making turn from veteran character actor David Dastmalchian. Now, the story of a flailing Hollywood talk show host whose disastrous attempts to escape the shadow of Carson with a live Halloween special featuring a young girl who escaped a satanic cult is ready for home viewing. One of the rare times a movie may be better experienced on your living room television.

Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

馃搮 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

馃帶 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

馃懆馃徎鈥嶐煂 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and yearly festival guide.

TONIGHT

馃幐 Real Estate @ The Basement East, 7p, $32.87, Info
+ dream pop

馃獣 All-Star Bluegrass Night @ Station Inn, 9p, $20, Info
+ feat. Gena Britt, Stephen Burwell, John Meador, Johnathan Dillon, and Tyler Griffith

馃崁
Live Irish Music @ McNamara鈥檚 Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

馃幐 Kelly鈥檚 Heroes @ Robert鈥檚 Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info

馃幐 Open Mic @ Fox & Locke, 6:30p, Free, Info
+ vet community here