Police oversight officials are recommending changes to the Metro Nashville Police Department’s hiring practices. And they’re asking the public to weigh in.
Researchers have identified 11 ways that MNPD could improve its procedures. The goal is to ensure the department is hiring the best and most diverse recruits possible.
Some of the recommendations are specifically aimed at keeping people out of the department who have a history of using force or bias. Those include more specific questions in the application and thorough reviews of applicants’ social media.
Other proposals aim to increase diversity within a department that’s predominantly male and white. Researchers are suggesting that MNPD review how recruiters evaluate applications based on race and gender, to make sure people aren’t being unfairly ruled out.
The recommendations are the result of a study conducted by Metro Nashville Community Oversight staff in response to a request from the NAACP. The organization raised concerns about MNPD’s hiring practices after the district attorney’s office brought second-degree murder charges against Nathan Glass, a Metro Police officer who was hired after he shot and killed a man while working as a security guard in East Nashville.
Glass was accepted to the MNPD training academy before the shooting and was set to start just days after the incident. Those plans were put on hold while law enforcement investigated. But when prosecutors told the department they did not plan to charge Glass, MNPD allowed him to join the next academy class.
Last fall, the DA’s office reviewed the case and decided to charge Glass. The department has decommissioned him while his case makes its way through the courts. Glass has pleaded not guilty.
Researchers from the police oversight office reviewed MNPD data and policies and interviewed recruitment and human resources staff to evaluate the department’s hiring protocols. They also compared Nashville’s procedures with national best practices.
Nashville residents can provide feedback on the report by emailing the Community Oversight Board at [email protected] Board members will vote on the recommendations at a meeting later this month.
Oversight staff found that MNPD has “well-defined” application process with both “strengths and challenges.” They acknowledged that the department is already working to improve its procedures, in order to “recruit officers who are critical thinkers, empathetic, have integrity, are problem solvers, and are good communicators.”
However, researchers also uncovered racial, ethnic and gender disparities in the hiring process that would need to be addressed to make those goals a reality.
“The eleven recommendations offered in this report aim to encourage community, transparency, accountability, equity, justice, and evidence as core components of the police department,” they wrote.
If approved, the suggestions will go to Police Chief John Drake for his consideration.
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member.