Nashville Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson slammed a report that alleges racial bias in traffic stops by Nashville police, strongly denying the accusation and calling the report a “morally disingenuous” attempt to drive a wedge between police and Nashvillians, the Tennessean reports. “I categorically deny racial profiling is an element of any … policing strategies and would undertake appropriate action to remove an officer that is determined to have engaged in such conduct,” Anderson wrote in a sharply worded email to Council members. The lengthy letter marks Anderson’s most direct public response to a report the nonprofit Gideon’s Army called “Driving While Black.” The report alleges racial bias by noting that black drivers are 27.6 percent of the city’s population but make up 39.3 percent of traffic stops. Nearly 64 percent of the city’s population, white drivers are involved in 55.5 percent of stops.
Prompting Anderson’s response to the report, which he called an attempt to draw attention to a “false narrative of racial profiling,” was a resolution that the council voted 31-7 yesterday to approve, that asks the police department whether it agrees with the report’s findings. Anderson said he agrees there’s a disparity in traffic stops but that “numbers cannot tell you the reasons, good or bad, the disparity exists. Those reasons can be revealed, or at least hypothesized, only with exhaustive research and analysis,” he said. “That was not done in this situation.” He slammed the report’s methodology of relying on census data to support racial profiling claims. He said census data are “only a snapshot” on where people live and does not consider where people drive their vehicles. Nashville’s police department has been under heightened scrutiny after the shooting death of Jocques Clemmons, a 31-year-old black man who was killed by a white officer during an altercation in a public housing development.