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PUBLIC SAFETY

A Safer Nashville - For Everyone

The public safety of our community is the cornerstone of Metro government's function. The ability of our public safety agencies to respond quickly during an emergency is grounded in these departments being well equipped and fully staffed. As mayor, I am committed to investing in our public safety departments so we can handle the growth ahead.

Implement Community Policing Practices
As mayor, one of my first objectives will be to implement community policing practices across the Metro Nashville Police Department. This is essential to build trust and mutual respect between officers and the people they serve. Officers should be walking neighborhoods to build relationships with residents and small business owners so that they can better understand the unique issues facing our communities. This successful approach has been shown in cities across our country to increase proactive community engagement and maintain higher-levels of public safety. 

I will work to implement 21st Century Policing recommendations compiled under the Obama administration that we’ve let fall to the wayside for too long. This includes additional and required officer training and education on 21st Century Policing Practices to include the following:

  • Prioritize Life by Limiting the Use of Force
  • Zero Tolerance for Discriminatory Practices 
  • Responding to Misconduct Complaints with Accountability 
  • Prioritizing Violent Crimes Over Non-Violent Offenses 

It is also essential the Metro government finally invests in body cameras for every officer and dash cameras for every vehicle. There is widespread support for this technology throughout the community and police department alike, yet budget after budget has failed to fund this need. Cameras are paramount to restoring trust between MNPD and residents as they ensure increased accountability for all parties. One of the most important ways to restore trust, however, is for MNPD to better reflect the communities they serve. Recruiting more women and people of color to the force is a key first step in changing the culture within MNPD, and ensuring that the department can grow with Nashville. 

Investing in Our Fire Department
Our firefighters risk their lives to keep us safe, yet we expect them to do so with out-of-date equipment and minimal support. Firehouses are falling into disrepair, with only one additional station added since 2001. Nashville currently has 41 stations, which is about 20 short of where our city should be, given our increased population and density. In the 1990s, Nashville had 14 ladder trucks designed to handle tall buildings. Now, with more skyscrapers than ever before and 30 years later, we only have 12 trucks available. Many vehicles are in a constant state of repair, and the lack of investment forces firefighters to use their largest trucks on the smallest of calls. This not only increases wear and tear but takes entire firehalls out of service and unable to respond to other emergencies.

Furthermore, the industry standard to ensure the safety of our first responders is to have four firefighters per truck, which rarely happens due to understaffing. As mayor, I will fully support the Nashville Fire Department and ensure they have everything they need to keep residents and first responders safe. We need to increase staffing, build new fire stations, and give NFD state-of-the-art equipment. Cutting budgetary corners with public safety will only lead to tragedy unless we make the necessary investments now to prepare for the growth ahead. 

First Responder Pay
Our first responders have been taken advantage of by the Mayor’s Office for too long. Firefighters, police officers, EMS professionals are often forced to live in other counties because they can’t afford to live in Nashville, and many often transfer to neighboring police departments for higher pay, more resources, and a better quality of life. We can start by ensuring competitive salaries for all safety personnel, at or above what surrounding counties provide. Also, as mayor, I am committed to never touching the pensions of our first responders. That is their money, a promise we made as a city for their years of service, and an entitlement that should never be taken away.

Community Oversight Board
I have been a proponent for community oversight since the beginning. As mayor, I will ensure that the Community Oversight Board is fully supported by Metro government and that it receives all necessary resources in the unfortunate event that an investigation is needed. I will also fight against any attempt at state preemption, by, first and foremost, strengthening Metro’s legal department and never legislating out of fear. 

Emergency Preparedness
Ensuring public safety also includes how Metro government responds in a time of crisis. To start, we need to enhance Nashville Emergency Management Response by following through with necessary upgrades to our outdated tornado warning system. Emergency preparedness also includes updating our utilities so that they can better handle the impacts of significant storm events, and we can minimize power outages to homes, businesses, and other infrastructure. I would also appoint an executive decision-maker to establish a comprehensive plan for the evacuation of long-term care facilities in the event of a natural disaster, and improving procedures for assisting disadvantaged communities that could be disproportionately impacted by environmental events.

This is a working document based on feedback from thousands of residents across Nashville. Have an idea? Contact us at info@johnrayclemmons.com.