Since publicly admitting to concealing her two year adulterous relationship with Sgt. Robert Forrest while he was an active duty Metro police officer and head of her security detail, Mayor Megan Barry has tried to convince the public that what she claims was an “off the clock” private affair, has no negative implications for the city’s government operations.
During the time her extramarital affair was active and she was traveling on publicly-paid for business trips alone with Sgt. Forrest, at home Mayor Barry was officiating at public events including the December 2017 graduation ceremony for 49 new Nashville police officers.
Standing before the new officers, the Mayor offered her congratulations and then administered the oath of office asking them to swear to uphold the Charter and Code of Laws of the Metro Nashville government and to:
serve the Metro Government of Nashville/Davidson County, Tennessee honestly and faithfully and I will obey the orders of the officials placed over me according to the law.
Earlier in December 2017, Mayor Barry administered the same oath to the Nashville Fire Department graduates.
Both the Mayor’s 2016 Executive Order 005 and Metro’s Code of Laws Section 2.222 govern “Standards of Conduct” for all Metro employees including the admonishment that all Metro employees, including the Mayor, “shall avoid any action”… affecting adversely the confidence of the public in the integrity of the Metropolitan Government.”
Sandwiched in-between two July 2017 trips the Mayor took alone with Sgt. Forrest to Park City, Utah and New York City while her affair was active, the Mayor officiated at the inaugural graduation of the Nashville Metro Police Department’s Youth Citizen Policy Academy and visited with young girls attending the Fraternal Order of Police Youth Camp.
The Tennessee Star asked Sgt. James Smallwood, President of Nashville Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP) his opinion about how certain aspects of the Mayor’s affair might affect the police department:
The Star – Chief Anderson has said the affair between the Mayor and Sgt. Forrest has not violated any police department rule or policy because SID was Sgt. Forrest’s chain of command so technically the Mayor was not his supervisor so the Chief doesn’t see any reason to review the department’s policies in this regard. Do you agree that there has been no violation and that there is no need to review the department’s policy regarding supervisors’ relationships with subordinates? Do you think the Chief’s position on this issue reflects negatively on the integrity and credibility of the department?
Sgt. Smallwood – I find it difficult to believe that of the various chargeable offenses available in the MNPD disciplinary matrix that there are absolutely no policy violations whatsoever. I also find it difficult to believe that a thorough investigation of Sgt. Forrest’s conduct over two and one half years was completed within 2 t0 3 days that the MNPD was made aware of the affair. Sgt. Forrest clearly showed that he used poor judgment in his position and that his conduct reflected upon the department in a poor manner.
Two days after the Mayor publicly admitted to having committed the adultery with Sgt. Forrest, D.A. Glenn Funk asked the TBI to investigate whether the “Mayor and/or others, including Sgt. Rob Forrest, violated any criminal law including misappropriation of public funds and official misconduct.”
Sgt. Smallwood would not speculate as to whether Sgt. Forrest’s two year affair with the Mayor violated either his oath of office or the public trust. Instead, Sgt. Smallwood offered this observation:
My knowledge of the affair is only what I have seen in news reports. That being said, there are certainly many questions that need to be answered before that determination can be reached. These questions can only be answered through a comprehensive investigative process. Sgt. Forrest has maintained his innocence on these topics and he is entitled to that innocence until proven guilty. As far as I know, the TBI is investigating this matter to the fullest extent. We support this investigation and find it to be a reasonable effort given the circumstances.