Budget at Work: Public Safety
New Additions to the Fire Department
The Nashville Fire Department graduated 33 new firefighters as of April 2018. The 33 new additions, part of Battalion 78, spent 26 weeks and more than 1,000 hours on training and intensive curriculum. The graduating class includes 26 licensed Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) / Firefighters, 4 Advanced-EMT / Firefighters, and 3 Paramedic / Firefighters. These recruits were selected from a candidate pool of more than 1,000 applicants.
As NFD Director-Chief William Swann stated, "These new firefighters will have an immediate influence on the quality of care we provide. Friday's graduation is only the beginning of what I hope becomes many years of fine service from these recruits." Furthermore, Battalion 78 became the first recruit class to have two members earn the James E. Seay Jr. Memorial Scholarship, a $1,000 scholarship to Volunteer State Community College for further education in areas such as Fire Science and Advanced EMT licensing.
Nashville Mayor David Briley summarized, "Our first responders make a deeply positive impact on our community every day and respond to tough and trying situations. Each graduate here today embodies dedication and integrity and I know they will make our city proud.
In 2017, as a response to the increase of opioid overdose deaths in Nashville, Metro Nashville Police Officers began carrying the prescription medication Naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) to treat the effects of an opioid overdose. MNPD made an initial purchase of 790 Naloxone kits. Each kit contained two 4-milligram doses of Naloxone in nasal spray applicators. In order to carry Naloxone, police officers must first complete an online training program through the Tennessee Department of Health. From January to May 2017, at least 87 deaths in Davidson County were tied to opioids or opiates. There were 245 opiod-related overdoses in Davidson County in 2016.
The Youth Services Division of the Metro Nashville Police Department focuses on the health and welfare of youth in Davidson County by supporting organizations and communities working to end youth homelessness, domestic violence, truancy, delinquency, and physical abuse. One area within the Youth Services Division is the Juvenile Services Section, which is made up of the Runaway Unit, Recidivisum Unit, and Case Management Unit. These units work to investigate runaway cases, determine if criminal law violations have occurred, create procedures to ensure children's needs are met, hold juveniles accountable, support parental authority, and reduce juvenile status offenses. The fiscal year 2017 Operating Budget included funding for additional staff, which allowed the MNPD to increase resources to fully fund the Youth Service Recidivism Reduction Program. The Case Management Unit offers a nine-week Strengthening Families Program for at-risk juveniles, runaways, truant juveniles, and juveniles who have committed misdemeanors. The program offers classes in English and Spanish and has seen an increase in class size, more than double the number of participants from 2017 to 2018.
General Sessions Court
The Metropolitan General Sessions Court of Nashville-Davidson County is a high-volume, limited jurisdiction Court. The Court's jurisdiction includes civil, misdemeanor, and traffic violations cases, as well as metro ordinance and environmental violations, such as animal control and building code violations.
The Court has several specialty dockets, including the Mental Health Court docket. The Davidson County Mental Health Court provides services and support to those dealing with mental health challenges in Davidson County. From January 2016 through June 2017, 98 new individuals were admitted to the program, which currently has more than 200 participants. The fiscal year 2017 Operating Budget included funding for two additional staff members to assist with providing case management services, which has allowed the Mental Health Court to expand assistance and increase the number of people served each year.
The Veterans Court is another specialty court docket within General Sessions Court serving all armed forces. Veterans Court was created in 2014 through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. From January 2016 through June 2017, 36 veterans were admitted into the court's program. Services offered through the court include counseling, mental health evaluations, educational / vocational / employment assistance, and alcohol and substance abuse assistance programs. The fiscal year 2018 Operating Budget included funding in the GSD General Fund to add one staff member to assist with providing case management services in the Veterans Court.
Justice Integration Services (JIS)
JIS provides case management software and technology support products to justice agencies within Metro Nashville so that those agencies can provide better administration of justice within Nashville.
JIS worked with the Traffic Violations Bureau of the Circuit Court Clerk to create the Traffic Violations Information System (TVIS), which is a case management tool that replaced the Traffic Violations Bureau's previous system that had been used for 30 years. With the implementation of the TVIS, the Traffic Violations Bureau can create forms, letters, and reports from within the application, report cases to the Tennessee Department of Safety, and create, modify, and dispose of Metro, Traffic, and Parking citations.
During fiscal year 2017, JIS worked with General Sessions Court on Adult Probation (ADPB) case management application so that the software could be used by both the Davidson County Medical Health Court and Veterans Court. With this application, the courts can better manage their caseloads and ensure quality record keeping while also being able to generate statistics from the information in the system.
Criminal Court Clerk
In July 2017, the National Association for Court Management (NACM) presented it Top 10 Court Technology Solutions Awards during the organization's annual conference in Washington, DC. The Metro Nashville Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk's Office was one of the ten award winners. The department received an award for their website. The website had nearly 18 million hits in 2016. The website is easy to navigate and enables users to make online payments, search case information, view court dockets, research crime and arrest data, obtain expungement information, and run background checks.
NACM has more than 1,700 members worldwide and is the largest organization of court management professionals in the world. The awards are given to recognize the courts that best use technology to provide better services and improve access to the public. Submissions are judged according to interactive capabilities (such as online payments, e-filing, etc.), access to public records, user interface (easy to use and navigate, design layout, etc.), accessibility, and optimization for mobile services.
The Steering Clear PIP is now part of the Sheriff's Operating Budget for fiscal year 2019. The Sheriff's Department implemented a driver's license diversion program that interrupts the harmful cycle of debt, arrest, and deeper debt created by the criminalization of driver's license violations and redirect criminal justice dollars Metro spends on those prosecutions to a program that helps restore driver's licenses and expands economic opportunities for individuals living in poverty or near-poverty. The program screens individuals reporting to the citation docket each day until 15 new participants per day, for a total of 75 new participants each week. The program allows one to complete three diversion options: obtain a driver's license, complete a driver education class, or perform 8 hours of community service work. The program is operated by 6.0 full time employees.
Juvenile Court: Gentlemen and Not Gangsters (G.A.N.G.)
Juvenile Court is continuing its efforts at restorative justice through a special program called Gentlemen and Not Gangsters (G.A.N.G.). This program, based in North Nashville, was founded by Bishop Marcus Campbell to change lives and fight back against teen crime. As Bishop Campbell says, "Gang activity leads to drug activity, robbery, theft, you name it. It all leads to a bad road of destruction, and what we try to show these young men is that there is more out there to life than living that lifestyle of criminal activity." However, this program is a different type of gang.
Gentlemen and Not Gangsters is aimed at helping young men ages 12 to 17, that were previously arrested for various crimes, get their lives back on track. the program lasts a total of twelve weeks and, up through 2017, has graduated about 70 young men over a five year span. If a participant doesn't complete the full twelve weeks, then they have to start the program all over (which extends the length of their probation).
In 2015, G.A.N.G. teamed up with the Juvenile Justice Court, led by Juvenile court Judge Sheila Calloway. The G.A.N.G. program now takes referrals from the Juvenile Justice Court. As Judge Calloway describes the program's participants, "What they are used to is being on the street and being creative in the street. What this program helps them to do is be creative in the right way and use their potential in a positive manner."