Nashville Zero-Tolerance Approach Hurts Homeless: Critics


As downtown Nashville becomes more of a residential neighborhood, police “quality of life” enforcement is upsetting some people who work on behalf of the homeless population, The Tennessean reports. With a 24-hour downtown come round-the-clock tensions over the presence of homeless people. “The zero-tolerance policy basically targets the homeless, and it’s a deliberate policy,” said Steve Reiter, a community activist. Critics say the police sometimes turn a blind eye to intoxicated affluent people coming out of bars downtown at night, while they’re quick to arrest drunks who live on those streets.

Central district police commander Andy Garrett said that isn’t the case: “We don’t target groups, we don’t label groups. We target those that break the law.” Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, chairman of a commission working to end homelessness, said the city must take a “more comprehensive” approach than it has. “With downtown becoming more populated on an almost daily basis, it just highlights the importance of everyone working together to improve the problem of homelessness,” said Gentry, who is running for mayor next year. “And of course, the jails can’t do it.”


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