Sunday, June 14, 2020

Pressure mounts to force Chief Anderson out.

The Tennessean, June 14, 2020 - A groundswell of opposition from activists and Nashville council members has put Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson on the defensive amid national calls for police reform.

While allies describe Anderson as a consummate professional and a capable leader who has served the department faithfully for decades, critics say his resistance to address concerns of racial bias leave him ill equipped to lead a pivotal transformation in criminal justice.  At least 15 council members signed a resolution this month asking Mayor John Cooper to push Anderson out. A coalition led by black church leaders has done the same.

Cooper responded to those calls by promising a “360-degree evaluation of policing and public safety policies and practices.” He praised the “professionalism” of the department, but he did not directly answer a question about if he supports Anderson. ..Council member Freddie O’Connell, who is circulating the resolution calling for Anderson’s resignation,..a pattern of communication from the department that is perceived as harmful in Nashville’s communities of color.” ...Calls to oust Anderson would have seemed impossible a few years ago, when Anderson was cheered as a vanguard for his handling of protests and racial tension. (read more)

Rod's Comment:  Criticism of Anderson is based on his issuing a warrant for two of the ringleaders of the May 30th riot.  Other criticism is that when the group Gideon's Army issued a report in 2016 concluding that the police department disproportionately targeted black drivers for traffic stops, Anderson disagreed with the findings. He said the report created a "false narrative of racial profiling.” He is also criticized for his slow response in implementing use of body cams and for his alleged failure to adequately cooperate with the police civilian review board.

My view is that Anderson has been too accommodating of protesters.  I do not like that he allowed the May 30th riot to get out of hand resulting in violence and destruction and setting fire to the courthouse.  I think the police should have maintained law and order and protected property.  I am also critical of the police for allowing protectors to block an interstate at a protest a couple years ago and for the police stopping interstate traffic to accommodate the protesters during demonstrations.  I also do not think the police should be serving hot chocolate to protesters. 
No group nor council members are criticizing Anderson for failure to uphold law and order or for coddling protesters; all of the criticism is because he did not kowtow and pander enough.

Cooper has not taken a clear position on Anderson. He has said the recent protest were "handled well," and he has praised the "professionalism of our police department.” He has also said he will untertake a policy review of the police department that would lead to change within the department. Cooper has also noted that there is “civil service protections for department heads in Nashville.” That seems to indicate that he has a good reason should he chose to ignore any resolution callng for Anderson's ouster. I wish Cooper whould take a stand and say he has no intention to force Anderson out.  In my view Cooper should show some leadership.

With fifteen co-sponsors I think it is safe to assume the resoluton callng for Anderson's ouster will pass. I hope however that those who think it is not the right thing to do will argue their case and vote against the resolution and not just lay down roll over and play dead.

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