Nashville interim chief wants focus on de-escalation, says harassment has been investigated

    Vice-Mayor Jim Shulman (top) and Interim Nashville Police Chief John Drake. (Photo: Vice-Mayor Jim Shulman)
    Vice-Mayor Jim Shulman (top) and Interim Nashville Police Chief John Drake. (Photo: Vice-Mayor Jim Shulman)

    Community policing, peer support for police officers and additional training in de-escalation are ways to reallocate police funding, Metro Nashville Police interim Chief John Drake said Saturday. 

    Drake was the guest on a weekly “community conversation” Vice Mayor Jim Shulman holds via videoconference.

    Interim Police Chief John Drake (Photo: Metro Nashville Police Department)
    Interim Police Chief John Drake (Photo: Metro Nashville Police Department)

    Shulman asked Drake to address allegations of sexual harassment and assault  made public in August by Silent No Longer, a non-profit founded by a former MNPD detective to support and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. 

    “The  allegations have been investigated and some officers have been sanctioned. The investigations have been made public and (the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) is doing an independent investigation,” said Drake. He added Silent No Longer has failed to provide additional information about claims to be investigated. 

    But Monica Blake, a former MNPD officer who was sexually assaulted by a fellow officer, said the investigations Drake alluded to weren’t sufficient. 

    “The issue isn’t whether they are being investigated —  the Office of Professional Responsibility always investigates  – but they aren’t always investigated fairly,,” said Blake, characterizing the investigations as having “incredible amounts of bias.”

    Blake was sexually assaulted by a fellow officer in 2016. She sued the city of Nashville and received a $150,000 out-of-court settlement in April 2019. 

    Drake lauded Gov. Bill Lee’s decision to use CARES Act money to provide additional in-service training for law enforcement officers, including sessions on de-escalation and officer wellness. 

    “Officers go through things too. You can help a family, save a life. You can get in a fight (on the job,)  You can have a baby that’s deceased. Then you go home and all these things are weighing on the officer,” he said.

    Drake was elevated to serve as interim chief in early August, after then-chief Steve Anderson abruptly resigned. In June, Mayor John Cooper announced Anderson would retire this fall but Anderson’s move came earlier than expected. 

    Drake, a Nashville native who joined MNPD in 1988, is applying to assume a permanent position as chief. Cooper has said the city is conducting a nation-wide search for Anderson’s replacement.