Report: Nashville Police Target Blacks, Don’t Improve Safety

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A long-awaited report found one of the Nashville police department’s key strategies to fight crime disproportionately targets people of color without making the city any safer, The Tennessean reports. Former Mayor Megan Barry reached out to the Policing Project at New York University’s law school in 2017 after incidents that drew attention to the way Nashville police officers interact with people of color. In 2016, the nonprofit Gideon’s Army released its “Driving While Black” report, which said an analysis of 2 million city traffic stops suggested severe and institutional racial discrimination on the force. In February 2017, a white officer shot and killed Jocques Clemmons, who was black, as he ran from a traffic stop.

Prosecutors said the officer was acting in self-defense because Clemmons had raised a gun. Critics protested Clemmons’ death, calling it an example of racial bias that turned deadly. Barry asked the nonprofit to “offer suggestions for a plan to address community concerns.” Nashville police have long used traffic stops as a key tactic to increase visibility and prevent crime. At its height, in 2012, the department conducted about 450,000 stops. That number has gone down since. The Policing Project’s data analysis found that black drivers in Nashville are stopped at a 44 percent higher rate than white drivers. Police say the disparity exists because they deploy officers to high-crime areas, often neighborhoods where many people of color live. The report found that “even controlling for crime, unexplained racial disparity still remains.”

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