Metro Nashville City Council voted to increase its spending on Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) by $10.5 million, per the finalized budget. Mayor John Cooper approved the budget on Wednesday. Some of this funding will go toward the new southeast precinct, totaling up a 5 percent increase. Overall, the budget sits at around $2.6 billion.
Following passage of the budget during Tuesday’s meeting, the Nashville People’s Budget Coalition shouted down the council members during its 45 minute recess. As a result, the council was unable to continue its business on time.
Metro Nashville’s Community Oversight Board (COB) wants the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to prioritize diversity when hiring. This came out of an advisory report focused on reforming MNPD hiring procedures, requested by the Nashville NAACP. In the conclusion of its report, the COB insinuated it wasn’t enough for MNPD’s current standards to hire applicants who are critical thinkers, empathetic, problem solvers, good communicators, and have integrity. They 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 report’s 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.”
The remainder of Nashville’s Community Oversight Board (COB) are registered voters in Davidson County. The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office confirmed this information with The Tennessee Star.
The Star inquired initially after discovering that a recently-resigned member of the COB, Ovid Timothy Hughes, isn’t a registered voter. Hughes was convicted of a felony in 2008 – mail fraud committed against a previous employer. Not only did Hughes not disclose this information, he stated falsely before the Metro Nashville City Council that he was a registered voter.
Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the Star News Network’s Investigative Reporter Corinne Murdock to the studio to discuss her finding on since resigned COB member Ovid Timothy Hughes.
Metro Nashville’s Community Oversight Board (COB) members aren’t vetted prior to appointment – officials say they’re taken at their word. However, the shakiness of this method was exposed/ proved unreliable after The Tennessee Star discovered that recently-resigned member Ovid Timothy Hughes isn’t a registered voter, as he’d claimed and as was required of him by law. Hughes is a convicted felon, tried and charged in 2008 for mail fraud. He racked up over $78,000 of fraudulent charges against a previous employer using stolen credit card and account information.
Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman spoke with The Star about this revelation. He assured us that they would be taking extra steps in the future to verify all COB applicants’ voting eligibility.
Prior to his acceptance by Metro City Council members to serve on the Community Oversight Board (COB), Ovid Timothy Hughes asserted he was, in fact, a registered voter.
But records show that as a convicted felon, Tennessee law would have prevented Hughes from legally voting in any election without either obtaining an outright pardon from the sitting governor or successfully petitioning a court to expunge his criminal record.
Not all members of the Nashville Community Oversight Board (COB) have been entirely truthful with the public they serve – or the police they’re entrusted to hold accountable. Over the weekend, The Tennessee Star uncovered information that a recently-resigned member of the COB, Ovid Timothy Hughes, may have misled officials about his voting status in order to be appointed. COB Executive Director Jill Fitcheard hasn’t responded to The Star about why he wasn’t vetted prior to his appointment.
The COB is tasked with investigating police misconduct allegations, as well as issuing reports and recommendations based on research of misconduct, public safety, and the administration of justice. Those responsibilities necessitate a series of requirements for membership. Individuals must be registered voters in Davidson County; residents of the county for at least one year; and be nominated by a community organization, a petition of at least 50 county residents, or at least one Metro City Council member. Members can’t be current law enforcement members or have been one in the last five years, elected officials, or the spouse of any of the former. Members must also agree to continuous trainings in areas such as civil rights, equity, criminal justice, policing practices, cultural diversity, sexual harassment awareness. However, it is unclear if members are vetted prior to their appointment.
Metro Nashville attorneys settled for $2.25 million with the parents of Daniel Hambrick in their wrongful death lawsuit. That settlement wouldn’t bring closure to the entirety of the ordeal, however. The settlement will not resolve a separate case concerning Andrew Delke, the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officer who shot Hambrick. Delke still faces a first-degree murder charge.
By offering this settlement, Metro government clarified that neither they or Delke were admitting to any wrongdoing or liability. Metropolitan Director of Law Bob Cooper suggested that this settlement would help offer some closure for the community.
Previous Community Oversight Board (COB) member Ovid Timothy Hughes somehow skirted the Tennessee Code’s standards for COB membership. Hughes isn’t a registered voter – he’s a convicted felon. That begs the question: the COB’s purpose is to ensure police accountability on issues such as misconduct, but what happens when the members themselves aren’t being held accountable?
The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office confirmed with The Tennessee Star that Hughes isn’t an eligible voter. They explained that he was purged in 2008 for a felony conviction. This corroborates with details The Star reported on Friday. Hughes was arrested and charged for mail fraud, spending over $78,000 on items such as computer equipment and designer clothing using stolen credit card and private account information from a former employer.
Up until last week Ovid Timothy Hughes was a member of Nashville’s Community Oversight Board (COB), dedicated to enforcing police accountability. However, Hughes wasn’t your typical concerned citizen on the COB – he has a lengthy criminal history himself.
Between 2001 and 2002, Hughes racked up several felony charges for burglary. He was sentenced to two years in the private prison Corrections Corporation of America, now known as CoreCivic, and two years’ probation. Then in 2008, Hughes was arrested and charged for mail fraud. Hughes had reportedly stolen credit card and private account information from his previous employer. From 2006 to 2007, Hughes used the information to spend over $78,000 on items such as computer equipment and designer clothing.
The Community Oversight Board (COB) approved a report issuing use of force consent decree recommendations. Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) will work with the COB to implement these recommendations. Mayor John Cooper tasked members within the Community Oversight Board to explore use of force policies following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.