Number of People Applying for Nashville Police Reportedly Falls Dramatically

In 2010 about 4,700 people applied to work as a police officer in Nashville.

Seven years later the number of people who wanted to work as a cop in Music City dwindled to just 1,900 people.

This, according to the website Oregon Live, which did a story about more and more people around the nation avoiding careers in law enforcement altogether.

The findings don’t surprise Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood.

Smallwood told The Tennessee Star Friday this is part of a nationwide trend — not just in Nashville.

“Some people look at the law enforcement profession, and they ask themselves is it really worth the amount of money that these employers are really willing to pay and to put everything I have at risk and put my family at risk? Even if I have done my job correctly, they said, I am still at risk of being scrutinized or arrested or something to that extent,” Smallwood said.

“They may decide the pay and benefits are no longer commensurate with that risk, and they find something else to do. Some of them are finding smaller departments or other departments that have benefits or pay that are better or a city administration that supports their officers better and they are going there.”

In a referendum last month, Nashville voters approved a civilian oversight board over police. Smallwood and others worry this coming board will exclude the perspectives of law enforcement officers.

The number of people who apply to work as cops in Nashville, Smallwood predicted, will only continue to dip.

“You will see some of our people that would have been good decent qualified applicants for Nashville look to other cities, especially given the fact that this draft was so poorly done and there is so much ambiguity and it leaves a lot to interpretation,” Smallwood said.

The trend toward fewer police officers per capita has been steady for 20 years, according to Oregon Live, citing findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“While the U.S. population has risen from 267 million in 1997 to 323 million in 2016, the number of full-time sworn officers per 1,000 U.S. residents has dropped from 2.42 in 1997 to 2.17 officers per 1,000 residents in 2016,” according to Oregon Live.

Nashville residents ought to start caring about this issue, if they don’t already, Smallwood said.

“If we don’t have people who are willing or qualified to come to Nashville (law enforcement jobs) it compromises the future of public safety in Nashville. It will lead to longer call waiting times and longer response times. Higher crime is always a potential if we don’t have enough officers on the street,” Smallwood said, adding this problem affects the city’s economy too.

“Nashville’s economy is widely based in tourism. Public safety is a key strategy in bringing tourists to our city because they want to feel safe when they are doing things here. If safety becomes compromised then people are going to see that. It will become widely known, and we will have to worry about how it affects our economy. People may choose not to come here to recreate.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Police Recruits” by





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6 Thoughts to “Number of People Applying for Nashville Police Reportedly Falls Dramatically”

  1. JIm w Southerland

    Police accept the fact that a number of layers of authority are looking at their every move. First is the chain of command, which simple demands that officer do their jobs in legal and sanctioned fashion. Then there is the TBI who investigates every shooting and serious allegation of wrongdoing. Then the FBI ever vigilant for civil rights violations by the police, then the local district attorney who is this particular jurisdiction is very tough on cops who break the law. All of which are fine to the average officer because every layer has standards and written policies. But no cop wants a loud mouth community activist or a radical “REVEREND” passing judgement on his action and carrier, because there are no written standards to be observed by activists looking for fame or personal advancement. I see cops not getting our of their cars for fear of being falsely accused by this new board.

  2. Traditional Thinker

    Welcome to hell tourist, formally referred to as nashville. We’ve got your liberal universities, illegal low rent habitats, LGBQT support system in place. We’re anti moral, church, human, and conscience. Primarily, we stand for everything except sensible thought. Come feast at our buffet of ignorance and dravity. Mayor mickey mouse Briley will be your server.

  3. Proud Nashvillian

    The leaders of Nash-Francisco will NEVER discuss the real criminal problem. Black on black violence.

  4. Wolf Woman

    The Black Christian churches and pro-illegal alien organizations were huge supporters of this referendum. Rather than take responsibility for the high numbers of crime and do some soul-searching for its root causes in their own groups, they want to play the race/victim game and blame outside forces. These people will be some of the most affected as the number of police decline and crime rates rise as they don’t understand what the law of unintended consequences means for their neighborhoods.

    This is the progress that all the progressives and socialists posing as liberals voted for . . .
    Next on their agenda will be to make Nashville a sanctuary city, officially decreeing that there is no law and order here.

  5. Angelito

    I would not want to risk my life while having a panel of screaming leftist liberals criticizing my every move. Perhaps David Briley can moonlight and patrol the hood in the name of political correctness.

  6. Rick

    When Mayor Snowflake and the Metro Council (Circus) back the criminals more than the police what do you think is going to happen. Briley is. a weak ineffective leader, who at this point only wants to get reelected. When judges let the criminals back on the street faster than the police can arrest them and the criminals know there is very little or no punishment for their crimes, there is no control. The police do not feel suppported by the administration and the criminals have no fear of punishment from the judicial system, a recipe for disaster. Nashville is just starting to see their problems from lawlessness, with less judicial enforcement and a weak leader it is only going to get worse. Welcome to the “IT” city!