More than 30 current and former employees have now lodged complaints against the Metro Nashville Police Department for allegations ranging from sexual assault to racial discrimination and retaliation.
Silent No Longer TN, a local nonprofit that supports survivors of sexual violence, brought the new accusations to light during a press call Tuesday morning.
An LGBT officer says stuffed animals were placed in sexually provocative positions on their desk.
“Open talks in and around me derogatory in nature towards LGBT people often happened on my shift and in my presence,” the officer wrote in an anonymous survey.
A female officer says a colleague chased her around her patrol car and tried to kiss her.
“I was able to get into my car and lock the door,” she writes. “Another time he backed me up on a business alarm and grabbed me and kissed me.”
A woman says a sergeant told her she had to decide if she wanted to be Black or a cop. Another says her career has been ruined for speaking up.
These allegations have come to Silent No Longer through messages, emails, calls and an anonymous survey, and they highlight patterns of both race- and gender-based discrimination within the department.
Silent No Longer founder Greta McClain says she’s not publicizing these complaints to criticize the police department. As a former sex abuse detective, McClain says she’s raising awareness in order to keep both community members and employees safer.
“If you take an oath to serve and protect, then you need to follow that oath,” she says. “And it’s time that the bad apples are removed.”
McClain thinks the department needs a new leadership team, from its mid-level supervisors to the chief. She says many current and former employees have listed the same handful of superiors in their complaints and that those in charge have often either taken part in misconduct or turned a blind eye.
“This is not a culture that developed overnight,” she says. “Even if they didn’t participate or encourage this type of behavior, they had to know that it was occurring.”
Interim Chief John Drake, however, told Vice Mayor Jim Shulman during a community Zoom call this past weekend that he thinks MNPD has “a good culture here.”
“Do we have some people that get it wrong? Do we have men and women sometimes that interact and some things are said later that are not appropriate?” he asked rhetorically.
Drake said the department has created a direct phone line through its human resources department for employees to report sexual harassment directly to the chief.
“We take sexual harassment seriously,” Drake said. “I won’t tolerate it. This police department won’t tolerate it.”
The police department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are looking into several claims, and Metro HR has also encouraged employees to report complaints directly to them. Drake says some officers have already been sanctioned as a result of MNPD’s internal investigation, while other complaints have been unfounded.
But officials, including Drake, have said they need more details from Silent No Longer in order to move forward with their inquiries.
McClain says she’s happy to provide any information that won’t put her sources in jeopardy, if officials reach out to her directly with a specific request.