During an extended interview, Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson indicated that he’s “not seeing anything that we would change” as far as rules, regulations or policies under which the police department operates despite Mayor Megan Barry’s public admission of committing two years of adultery with the head of her security detail, Sgt. Robert Forrest, while he was an employee of Metro’s police department.
Police Chief Anderson appointed by then Mayor Karl Dean in 2010, accepts Mayor Barry’s characterization that her affair with Sgt. Forrest was strictly a personal matter. But Anderson makes it clear that he does not endorse people who work together having sexual relationships. He points out, however, that even if Sgt. Forrest had not “retired” and was still providing security for the Mayor, no specific rule or policy of the police department would have been violated.
Current police department policy only prohibits personal relationships between supervisors and subordinates and would not extend to the sexual relationship between the Mayor and the security detail assigned to her office by the police department. According to Police Chief Anderson, Sgt. Forrest’s chain of command and direct supervisor is the Specialized Investigations Division (SID) but that Forrest’s day to day directions were dictated by the Mayor or the Mayor’s staff.
Anderson says that “the Mayor is the boss and I would have to do what the Mayor says.”
Inconsistencies regarding security for the Mayor may be addressed by either the TBI or Metro Council special committee investigations.
During the Mayor’s public statements admitting to her affair, she attempted to justify the extent of time and interaction between herself and Sgt. Forrest based in part on what she said was the Police Chief’s perspective that “you are always the mayor and you should be secured appropriately.”
And again, the morning after publicly admitting to her affair, Mayor Barry stated:
Detail is with you all the time. I think that you can look at my schedule since the time I’ve come into office. I’ve had a very aggressive schedule, I’m out in the community, and that’s reflected with the overtime that has been billed to my detail, Barry explained, noting the police department sets the policy for how much and how often the mayor is covered by security.
Anderson’s position is that Mayor Barry should have security at all times, preferably 24 hours a day but at the very least when she is traveling on city business including when she is traveling outside of Nashville or internationally.
All expenses related to the security detail including expenses for Sgt. Forrest are and were paid by the Mayor’s office and all trips on which Sgt. Forrest traveled with the Mayor were arranged and approved by the Mayor’s office. Over-time charges were approved by Sgt. Forrest’s supervisor at SID.
Travel records released by the Mayor’s Office show that the Mayor traveled out-of-state alone in 2015-2016 to Boston, New York City, Washington, DC, Oklahoma City and Phoenix. Other trips were with staff members and no security.
The Mayor has been vague as to when her extramarital affair with Sgt. Forrest began and when and why it ended. She has likewise produced no evidence establishing her claim that “personal time” between her and Sgt. Forrest only occurred “off the clock” other than to produce hours billed for Sgt. Forrest’s security detail.
An ethics violation analysis will likely have to determine whether a clear line can be drawn between a solo security detail accompanying the Mayor traveling out of town on city business and “off the clock” time during that travel when neither the Mayor nor the security detail occupy those roles.
This particular piece of information could serve to inform whether public funds were used to provide opportunities that facilitated the Mayor’s adultery with Sgt. Forrest.
With regard to the police department’s policies and practices related to assigning security for the mayor, early yesterday morning The Tennessee Star submitted the following questions to both Police Chief Anderson and Don Aaron, Public Affairs Manager for the Police Department:
In light of the affair, are you or have you given any thought to replacing her [the Mayor’s] security detail with all women officers to avoid any further appearance of impropriety at least for the time being?
Will the occurrence of the affair between the Mayor and hear of her security detail have any impact or cause any review of decisions made by your department regarding who, how or for what purpose security is assigned to the mayor’s office?
Also, we understand that Mayor Barry insisted on taking her own security, Sgt. Forrest to the 2016 DNC [Democratic National Convention] despite the DNC providing high level security for political candidates and office-holders. Would you have approved the cost of the Mayor insisting on her own security detail for the DNC had you been asked about it ahead of time?
Could you also please describe the process by which you made the determination in 2016 that the mayor must have security at all times. Would appreciate the documentation that supports the process and decision.
Neither the Police Chief nor anyone from the department’s media relations responded by end of the day.