Statement by Community Oversight Now About Mayor David Briley and the Policing Project

Nashville, TN - As a collaboration of grassroots organizations working on police accountability and a Community Oversight Board, Community Oversight Now extends our sincere condolence to Daniel Hambrick’s family for the tragic loss of their son on July 26, 2018. Mr. Hambrick was shot in the back by MNPD Officer Andrew Delke during a foot chase. The videotape of the incident released on August 8 clearly shows that Mr. Hambrick was running away as he was shot. We are calling upon District Attorney Glenn Funk to bring an indictment of murder against Officer Delke.

We are deeply disappointed in Mayor David Briley’s press conference delivered on August 8, shortly before the release of the videotape. Unfortunately, his tone-deaf response to the public outcry after the killing of yet another Black man by a white officer represents politics as usual in a Southern city and a slap in the face of the Black community.

In response to the shooting, the mayor reintroduced the NYU Policing Project to Nashville. The Policing Project was first introduced by Mayor Megan Barry and her purposeful attempt to counter the Community Oversight Board proposal that was developed after the killing of Jocques Clemmons in February 2017. It was brought to Nashville with no vetting, little transparency, and mostly by advocates with little experience working and living in heavily-policed communities. The fact that Mayor Briley continues to use the Policing Project to counter local grassroots activists in Nashville’s black community is insulting and smacks of racial paternalism.

The Policing Project has nothing to do with police accountability. It only proposes a cost-benefit analysis of traffic stops and related matters - that is to study a problem that has already been studied in the “Driving While Black” report produced by Gideon’s Army. It is an initiative that will be managed and controlled by Chief Steve Anderson and discarded in a couple of years. Briley’s embrace of the Policing Project is a cynical display of governance. It intends to disempower local activists, particularly African Americans heavily invested in police accountability.

The Community Oversight Board proposal has been embraced by dozens of activists, groups, and Nashville residents across racial, neighborhood, and socioeconomic lines. The Tennessee NAACP has also been a consistent proponent of the oversight board proposal. Community Oversight Now and other allies are working to put the oversight board proposal up for a vote in the November 6th elections.

Nashville’s civil rights leaders have been calling for an oversight board since the early 1970s. In addition to the killings of Mr. Hambrick and Clemmons, the following issues also cause us great concern:

  • There are nearly 700 complaints each year against MNPD officers and 98% of these are decided in favor of law enforcement.

  • The “Driving While Black” report authored by Gideon’s Army assessed 2 million MNPD stops from 2011-2015. It found that blacks are disproportionately the targets of police stops and consent searches.

  • Assessments from the District Attorney and U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service department have noted institutional bias in the action of the MNPD.

Now is the time to establish a Community Oversight Board. We are calling upon the Mayor, the Metro Nashville Council, and people of good will to support the charter referendum petition for an oversight board. The majority of Nashville wants it. Stand with us! Stand with the Hambrick family! Stand with the Clemmons family!