Metro Nashville Community Oversight Board’s (COB) submitted their hiring recommendations concerning diversity increases and bias history requirements on Friday. The Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) promptly responded with a Diversity and Recruitment Report.
The COB made the decision to adopt and formally submit the advisory report to the MNPD during their meeting last Wednesday.
MNPD spokespersons confirmed to The Tennessee Star that they received the letter on Friday. Following our inquiries, MNPD shared with The Star the detailed report of their diversity and recruitment advancements.
The report cited that applications have increased by 9 percent. Of 280 applicants since this March, 129 were women and minority candidates. 271 of those applicants passed their exams, with a failure rate of 6 percent compared to last year’s 11 percent. For the year-to-date numbers, 171 applicants were women and 405 were minorities.
Other developments by MNPD included: a mentoring program, gun range opportunities for female officers, revision of nail polish policy, policies allowing religious headwear and facial hair, an employee harassment/discrimination reporting hotline, in-depth exit interviews, and deputy chief meetings to address female officer concerns.
The MNPD report also noted that it increased its retention efforts through the creation of an Employee Relations Unit. The unit, composed of female and minority employees, is tasked with addressing harassment and discrimination complaints, Title VI and VII Compliance, and employee grievances. It also reported that a working mothers program is in development.
As The Star reported last month, the COB issued a draft version of the advisory report for public review. Now that the COB voted on the advisory report, it has been finalized and relocated to the archives page housing all of the COB policy advisory reports.
The COB advisory report acknowledged MNPD’s commitment to hiring applicants who presented as critical thinkers, empathetic, problem solvers, good communicators, and full of integrity – but it recommended that MNPD prioritize diversity more.
“The data analysis in this report shows that there are racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in the hiring process that should be evaluated and addressed so that the goal of diversifying the police force can become a reality,” read the conclusion. “The eleven recommendations offered in this report aim to encourage community, transparency, accountability, equity, justice, and evidence as core components of the police department.”
Several additions were made to the eleven recommendations. For ease of reference, the recommendations are reproduced below with changes highlighted in bold.
- The Personal History Statement should include law-enforcement specific questions for applicants who have been law enforcement officials in another jurisdiction. This should include questions about unnecessary use of force, bias-based policing, and any disciplinary actions.
- Question #99 of the Personal History Statement asking whether applicants have a prejudice that will impact their job performance should be changed to a series of questions focused on discriminatory attitudes and behaviors and a short answer question regarding the applicant’s understanding of implicit bias.
- MNPD should evaluate reasons for Civil Service Testing no-shows through surveys and interviews with individuals who did not show up to testing. When impediments are identified, changes to the process should be considered and, if made, an evaluation plan should be in place to assess whether the change was effective. MNPD should aim to have at least 50 percent of invited applicants to take the Civil Service Tests.
- MNPD should publicly release their planned evaluation report focusing on whether changing the physical agility section of the Civil Service Test reduces gender and racial disparities in attending and passing the test.
- MNPD should work to increase the racial, ethnic, gender, age, and language diversity of the Recruitment Section’s background investigators to align with the population of Nashville more closely and make progress toward diversification by the end of 2021.
- MNPD should review, at least annually, the demographics of applicants that have been assigned to background investigators and the number of disqualifications resulting from each investigator to identify potential biases. One investigator having higher disqualification rates for a specific demographic group than other investigators does not necessarily indicate bias, but it suggests that an in-depth audit is needed.
- The Recruitment Section’s SOPs [Standard Operating Procedures] should address the timing of the social media review in the hiring process and the procedures used by MNPD personnel for reviewing social media content. This should include a standard solicitation process regarding applicant social media information. Applicants who refuse to supply access to social media accounts should be disqualified from the hiring process.
- SOPs should require that if an applicant is the subject of a criminal investigation after review by the DCOP [Deputy Chief of Police] Panel – regardless of the investigation’s outcome – the DCOP Panel must review the incident in the context of the applicant’s full background investigation and re-vote on the applicant’s qualification status.
- MNPD should add the Executive Director of the COB or their designee as a voting member to the DCOP Panel.
- The Recruitment Section’s SOPs should address conflicts of interest of the [DCOP] Panel and direct panelists to recuse themselves from deliberating or voting on an applicant’s qualification when they have personal or business relationship with the applicant.
- MNPD should evaluate the pre-academy employment program to determine whether it improves training academy outcomes and early employment outcomes compared to those who did not participate in the program and release a public report on the program.
COB Chair Andres Martinez voted to suspend their rules to approve the advisory report during last week’s meeting, rather than per the requirement that the board approve the report during a separate meeting. The board voted unanimously to suspend the rules and to submit the report.
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