Cooper tells NOAH no funds for criminal reform

    Recent graduates of the Metro Police Academy are sworn in August 12 2020. (Photo: Nashville.gov)
    Recent graduates of the Metro Police Academy are sworn in August 12 2020. (Photo: Nashville.gov)

    Mayor John Cooper told a group of Nashville community leaders Sunday the city does not have the funds to address criminal reform. 

    “I am sorry, and we would love to be able to do it but we have to accept that as a reality,” said Cooper. “The work is worthy, but we have to be able to pay for it.”

    Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) held a virtual event on Sunday to discuss solutions to several issues highlighted by this summer’s protests, including having Cooper meet with NOAH’s criminal justice task force. 

    NOAH spokesperson Joe Ingle asked Cooper if he would consider adopting the Oregon model “Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Street” (CAHOOTS), which involved trained personnel responding to police calls to ensure non-violent resolution of crisis situations. 

    Cooper agreed to meet with NOAH’s criminal task force but said Nashville does  not have the means to adopt the CAHOOTS model since Tennessee does not have the same capacity as Oregon to fund it. 

    When asked, Cooper said he would be open to a criminal reform model that included funding. 

    Cooper said police reform will be the primary focus of Nashville’s new police chief and has five finalists. 

    Cooper also pledged to work with NOAH on other issues, such as creating affordable housing and creating a“10 year plan to preserve and create a meaningful number of affordable housing units at an appropriate price with measurable results,” according to NOAH’s memorandum.  

    Deputy Chief of Police Kay Lokey, representing the Metro Nashville Police Department, said she will work to reimagine school safety, discuss ineffectiveness of school resource officers and discuss the understanding between Metro Police and Metro Nashville Public Schools by early 2021. Chairwoman Christiane Buggs, a Metro Nashville Schools Board member, and  Metro Schools’ Executive Officer for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ashford Hughes, Sr. committed to develop and implement strategies for reducing racial disparities in public schools, such as addressing that Black students were three times more likely to be suspended than white students last year.