On August 1, 1970, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department created the Youth Guidance Division. The Metropolitan Government recognized a need for a particular division of the Police Department focusing primarily on emphasizing the health and welfare of youth. The objectives of the Youth Guidance Division were the prevention of juvenile delinquency, the discovery of misconduct, and the elimination of the neglect of young people. The division coordinated with efforts of existing law enforcement agencies in the community that were concerned with the application of juvenile laws. There was a keen interest in the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the investigation of neglected and abused children.
The Youth Services Division duty remains working with communities in developing problem solving procedures; therefore, challenging the direct causes of crime through community engagement and diligent investigations. The division encourages building community capital through establishing trust through valuing trust and diversity.
The current goals of the Youth Services Division support the organizations and communities that work every day to put an end to youth homelessness, delinquency, physical and sexual assault, truancy, educational neglect, runaway, and child deaths. These include:
- Improving Outcomes for Youth
- Ensuring School Engagement
- Promoting the Role of Prevention
- Engaging Youth, Family, and Community
- Diverting Youth from the Justice System
- Reducing Recidivism and Institutionalization
- Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities
- Ensuring Access to Quality Investigations and Referrals
- Creating a Range of Effective Community-Based Programs
- Recognizing and Serving Youth with Specialized Needs
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, Youth Services Division, is responsible for investigating the following:
- Investigating Child Deaths, Child Abuse and Neglect
- Investigating Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
- Investigating Juvenile Missing Persons (under the age of 18 years) and Parental Kidnapping
- Investigate Reports of Runaway Juveniles and Absconders
Juvenile Sexual Assault Unit
This unit investigates cases involving suspected child molestation, child sex abuse, child exploitation. Also, the group investigates cases of child sexual assault and rape of a child under 18 years of age. The Juvenile Sexual Assault Unit work closely with Department of Children's Services (DCS), The District Attorney's Office and the Children's Advocacy Center of Tennessee. The team concept employs joint interviews of juvenile sexual assault victims.
Missing and Runaway Juvenile Unit
The role of law enforcement in runaway cases is to investigate to determine if a violation of criminal law occurred, identify and apprehend the runaway, and file appropriate criminal charges. The Runaway Unit conducts a holistic approach to developing procedures, protocols, and ways they can work with other professions to ensure that the needs of children are met. Investigations regarding runaway/missing persons present a genuine challenge to law enforcement professionals. Fortunately, public awareness and concern about runaway/missing persons continue to grow, especially as it relates to missing children and chronic runaways.
Youth Support Services Section
The Youth Support Services Section, is housed in the MNPD's Family Intervention Programs Division and partners with the Youth Services Division to refer youth and their families to appropriate programs, agencies, and provide short-term case management for at risk youth. Forming relationships with Metro Nashville Public Schools and Juvenile Court, this unit actively seeks restoration of the family unit. Four times a year, The Youth Support Services Section offers a free 9-week Strengthening Families Program. This program is for juveniles who are deemed at-risk, youths who run away from home, juveniles who commit misdemeanor criminal offenses, and juveniles who are chronically truant. The classes are offered in English and Spanish sessions.
Crimes Against Children Unit and Child Death Unit
The Crimes Against Children Unit and Child Death Unit Investigates incidents of child deaths, assaults, weapon violations, threats, and other crimes of violence committed against young victims . Members of this section investigate both known suspect and Juvenile Court custody cases. These members work closely with Department of Children's Services (DCS), The District Attorney's Office and the Children's Advocacy Center of Tennessee. When a child is physically beaten or sexually abused, the ideal set of events is that doctors treat the injuries, therapists counsel the child, social services work with the family, police arrest the offender, and attorneys prosecute the case. Promoting this response, effective community intervention involves the formation of a child protection team that includes professionals from medicine, criminal justice, social work, and education who understand and appreciate the different roles, responsibilities, strengths, and weaknesses of the other team members but cooperate and coordinate their efforts. The skills of each person are viewed as different but equally important.
School Resource Officer Section
The School Resource Officer Section provides MNPD officers inside our Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to provide mentorships, provide instruction, and create a safe learning environment. Uniformed MNPD officers with specialized training are assigned to high schools and middle schools within Davidson County. All MNPD SROs obtain a NASRO Basic-SRO certification that focuses on a Triad approach to officers inside the school system. The Triad Approach emphasizes officers as mentors, guest speakers, and safe schools as a way to promote positive relationships in the schools, and provide a safe environment conducive to learning. Additionally, SROs attend training in ACE's, Building a Strong Brain, and other courses that provide understanding of student behavior so appropriate services and programs can be offered, with the goal to keep students inside the classroom.