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Criminal Justice Issues in Davidson County

5/19/2017

Remarks as prepared by Mayor Megan Barry

Thank you for being here today.

The Metro Nashville Police Department and District Attorney’s Office we know are critical components to the safety of our city and the safety of the public in general. From time to time there may be areas of disagreement, and that is true of many components of government, but we need to be able to work together to make sure our citizens are safe, which is always the highest priority. I want all parties to stop the war of words as they need to communicate and cooperate.

On Thursday of last week, General Funk held a press conference to announce his decision not to seek an indictment against Officer Joshua Lippert in the shooting death of Jocques Clemmons. During that press conference, General Funk and members of his staff criticized the methodology and terminology used in portions of the investigation by the MNPD. The concerns raised by General Funk during that were not germane to his ultimate decision not to indict the Officer. It would have been more appropriate to sit down and discuss this report with the MNPD in advance of the press conference so they would have the opportunity to discuss the findings and explain any possible misunderstandings.

Following the press conference, Chief Anderson issued a very harsh letter directed towards Deputy District Attorney Amy Hunter who had been assigned by General Funk to deliver that portion of the report during the event. It was inappropriate of Chief Anderson to do that, and I have told him as much. Those issues should have been directed towards me. So on behalf of Metro Nashville, I want to apologize to General Hunter. I have directed Chief Anderson to discuss any correspondence of this nature with me in the future.

After having had the opportunity to review the observations from General Funk at his press conference last Thursday, and after reading Chief Anderson’s letter to Deputy District Attorney Amy Hunter refuting the observations, I believe there are some next steps to move forward and they need to be done together.

  • Now and in the future the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability should refrain from issuing any reports or recommendations on an officer involved use of force until any criminal investigation into the officer’s actions is closed, and we will take the necessary steps to make sure that’s going to happen.
  • The Metro Nashville Police Department and District Attorney’s Office will work together on a joint training program to create a better understanding of policies and procedures on both sides.
  • While the TBI has not released guidance to local law enforcement organizations on how to investigate officer-involved shootings, we have received their own internal Standard Operating Procedure manual and I have asked the MNPD to review and adopt best practices locally for use of force investigations to enhance community trust when we have those findings.
  • As for the MOU between the MNPD, TBI, and DA – it was discussed and negotiated over the course of several weeks. All parties had reviewed and read the document they signed, and there is no indication that the MNPD has deviated from those guidelines in the incident that occurred in Antioch. However, it is apparent that issues have arisen that may need to be addressed through amendments or revisions to the MOU in order to further clarify each agency’s role in the future and we will be working to do that.

I believe these steps will help to resolve some lingering questions of fact and opinion, while enhancing trust and cooperation between these two organizations.

So, let me close with this. Public safety is the foundational role of government – it is quite literally, the most important thing we do: to making sure the public is safe.

I believe that every Nashvillian deserves to live in a safe community.

I believe that every Nashvillian deserves to feel safe in his or her community, regardless of economic status, skin color or what country he or she may have come from.

I want us all to work together to ensure that we are doing what we need to do – whether that is by protecting victims of crime by arresting and prosecuting dangerous criminals, or ensuring that community members feel they are being treated fairly and equitably throughout all facets of the criminal justice system – and I have spoken with both Chief Anderson and General Funk and they will work with me to do just that.