Nashville’s new police chief is surrounding himself with a more diverse team than his predecessor. That includes promoting officers and creating a new office to foster relationships with community members.
But it will be an ongoing challenge to diversify a department that’s 82% white and 89% male.
When former Chief Steve Anderson left the department over the summer, three of the five deputy chiefs at the Metro Nashville Police Department were white men. Chief John Drake, who was officially appointed by the last mayor month, announced this week that he would promote three new deputy chiefs — two Black men and a white woman.
Drake has also appointed a Black man to serve as his chief of staff. That’s a new position that will help with both investigations and community engagement. Now, five of the six deputy chiefs are Black or women.
Plus, Drake’s new community engagement team includes Black, Latino, Kurdish, Vietnamese and LGBT officers. The 15-member unit is led by the department’s new chief diversity officer, who will also serve as a liaison to the Community Oversight Board.
Drake has said he’s committed to hiring a more diverse police force. But it will take time to recruit more officers and promote them.
MNPD data show that women and people of color have been vastly underrepresented in the leadership of the department. For instance, just five Black women have been promoted in the past decade, and three of them have since either retired or been demoted.
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member.