Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced Tuesday that he’d appointed 11 individuals to an advisory board tasked with addressing Metro violence. According to the mayor’s press release, these newly-appointed members will determine how $1.5 million in grants should be spent to prevent and reduce community violence.
The members of the Community Safety Partnership Advisory Board are Katina Beard, chair of the mayor’s Behavior Health and Wellness Advisory Council; Christiane Buggs, chair of Metro Nashville Public School Board of Education; Sheila Calloway, judge in the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court; Jennifer Gamble, chair of the Metro Council Public Safety Committee; Dwayne Greene, deputy chief of the Metro Nashville Police Community Services Bureau; Nawzad Hawrami, public safety chair of the mayor’s New American Advisory Council; Dr. Christopher Jackson, reverend for the Pleasant Green Baptist Church; Dr. Alex Jahangir, chair of the Metro Nashville Public Health Board; Andres Martinez, chair of the Metro Community Oversight Board; and Tom Turner, president and CEO of the Nashville Downtown Partnership.
In the mayor’s office press release, Cooper expressed confidence that this board would improve community violence.
“Community challenges demand community solutions,” said Cooper. “Our public safety response requires strong partnerships. And we must make real investments in strategies that work best for our neighborhoods.”
Cooper indicated that the Community Safety Partnership Advisory Board was in the works in March. The mayor created a new position, the Metro Community Safety Coordinator, to coordinate $3 million for a community safety pilot initiative. He specified that $1.5 million in grants would be given to local partners to bring in community violence reduction programs.
“To achieve community safety, we must harness the power of a community working as one,” stated Cooper. “This is an opportunity to invest in partners who are doing innovative work, to support them, and take their successful models even further in Nashville.”
The board was an outgrowth of the Policing Policy Commission (PPC) report, issued in November. The PPC was created by Cooper at the behest of previous President Barack Obama, who challenged cities to review police use of force policies and “reimagine policing” following George Floyd’s death.
The PPC report noted that it was an issue that 81 percent of sworn officers were white. The report admitted that police use of force had fallen sharply since the early 2000s, but said that people of color experienced police use of force at “higher levels” than white people.
The report called for increased diversity in the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD), as well as the elimination of disparities in use of force between people of color and white people. The PPC said that MNPD should prioritize collaboration, diversity and inclusion, human dignity, and transparency – no mention of crime prevention or administration of justice.
The $3 million community safety initiative is a part of Cooper’s larger plan for a one-time, $10 million state grant to address small business recovery and affordable housing.
– – –