Hundreds of Nashville sex crime accusations over the past few years have been classified a “matter of record,” or a non-crime, by police. A matter-of-record classification is used when police respond to a call but can't determine if a crime has been committed. Now, the department has reclassified nearly 400 such sex crime allegations from matters of record to rapes, fondling cases, and other criminal offenses. These are cases that until now never appeared in crime statistics, were never reported to the state, never reported to the FBI, and never reported to Nashville residents.
Metro police maintain that the reclassification is simply a change in paperwork with no real-world consequences and that every case, even if labeled a matter of record, is investigated with the same vigor as if it were labeled a rape. Said Lt. Preston Brandimore, head of Metro's Sex Crimes Unit: “When we're talking about prosecuting or investigating, they all get investigated the same.” The change in designation represents at least a 9 percent hike in Nashville's sex crimes in 2009, 12 percent in 2007, and raises questions about how those cases were investigated and the accuracy of local crime statistics. Verna Wyatt of the victim advocacy group You Have the Power, laid blame at former Police Chief Ronal Serpas' feet, saying that it's no coincidence that the rape statistics were being revised after his departure. Serpas' critics say he put too much emphasis on traffic stops at the expense of other investigations while he was chief.