In 2020, it took only 10 minutes for Nashville police to respond to a call about a shooting. Two years later, that wait time had tripled to half an hour.
That’s one finding in a data analysis by Nashville’s community oversight board.
Researcher Gavin Crowell-Williamson says that people often base their opinion of police on response times.
“I think it really does present a twofold issue,” Crowell-Williamson says. “One, in terms of public safety, and two, in terms of public perception of police and whether they’re doing their jobs.”
It’s part of a national trend of increased police response times, but the problem has gotten especially bad in Nashville.
MNPD says there are a variety of factors that impact call times — traffic, construction, high volume.
Kris Mumford, a spokesperson for MNPD, says hiring more officers could help.
“The police department presently is 164 officers below our authorized strength,” Mumford says. “The police department is working diligently to recruit qualified men and women to our police department.”
But Crowell-Williams thinks the solution is less about adding officers, and more about allocating them where they are really needed.
His analysis found that those slow response times can make it more difficult for police to solve crimes. And clearance rates vary greatly across the city — in the Madison precinct, 20% of cases are cleared. But in Hermitage, less than 7% are solved.
“You shouldn’t expect that just because you live in a certain part of the city, you’re getting a differential police response,” Crowell-Williamson says. “But when gaps like this are being highlighted, I think it behooves the department to pay attention to why, and think about reallocating resources accordingly.”
He says officers should be moved to patrol positions to respond more quickly to calls for help.