Quick update before Council meeting tonight

Tonight, there is a meeting of the Council Public Safety Committee and its Minority Caucus in response to the Driving While Black report issued in October 2016 by Gideon’s Army.

This meeting is the result of a resolution and an ordinance that I have co-sponsored with Erica Gilmore. The resolution asks for MNPD to let the Council know whether the data in the report is accurate, and whether there is any additional information that the public needs to understand the data in context. The ordinance asks for annual reporting of data similar to what is in the report.

Today, Chief Anderson has provided lengthy materials in response to the report. You can see his letter to the Council, his letter to the public, and some additional statistics for context. I thank Chief Anderson for providing this information.

Chief Anderson’s materials explore the idea that, even though we have community-based policing in Nashville (i.e., do your policing where victims report crime) and minorities are involved in the criminal justice process at higher rates than non-minorities, there is no evidence of a causal link between the two. He explains that any racial disparities in outcomes are a reflection of our broader society.

I appreciate Chief Anderson acknowledging that his department has been “…reluctant to publish parts of this information.” He says (and I agree) that “…for there to be any meaningful improvement in [this situation] there must be candid, maybe painful, conversations across Nashville.”

The reason I proposed the current legislation was to encourage all of us to fully confront any differences between how people of different races experience the criminal justice process in Nashville. Even when the data is “unsettling” as described by Chief Anderson, it is better for Nashville to be unsettled and be talking.

I would like to see my legislation passed as a statement that Nashville and MNPD together believe the right thing to do is to disclose and confront unsettling statistics.

Bob Mendes

Bob Mendes represents all of Nashville as a Council-At-Large member of Nashville’s Metro Council. He is Chair of the Council’s Charter Revision Committee, a member of the Metropolitan Audit Committee, and a member of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, Rules & Confirmations Committee, and Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee. Bob also practices business law at Waypoint Law PLLC. Bob’s complete bio is here. You can follow Bob @mendesbob.