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Mayor Karl Dean’s police audit plan full of sound and fury, signifying nothing except election aspirations

Posted in Law Enforcement, Murfreesboro, Nashville, News Media, Tennessee by Mike Byrd on May 18, 2010

There have been questions raised in the public about the validity of Nashville’s crime statistics …. Public safety is a top priority, and it’s just as important that people feel they are safe.

– – Nashville Mayor Karl Dean last week

In Nashville, residents had an overwhelmingly positive view of the police, with surveys showing an 85 percent satisfaction rate …. “There are concerns of the crime reporting both inside and outside the department,” said Councilman [Jim] Gotto. “I don’t know whether the numbers are right or wrong. I just want someone to look at them closer.”

Gotto acknowledged that the numbers may not matter much. “Hey, the community really likes him,” he said. “They feel pretty safe.”

– – Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune

Nashville just lost a police chief who by most accounts could go anywhere he wanted. Despite general recognition, even among opponents, that Ronal Serpas’s use of a Comstat statistics system made Nashvillians, Washingtonians, and New Orleanians feel safer, Mayor Karl Dean is directing that Metro resources be spent to conduct an audit based on a nebulous complaints that he says that hears from “the public.” 85% of the public was satisfied with the Serpas-lead police force, so why is the Mayor not producing more evidence of widespread dissatisfaction to support his fishing expedition?

Certainly, NewsChannel5 reporter Phil Williams failed to convey much local dissension about Serpas’s crime numbers beyond conservative Republican Gotto, who is running for state political office.  Hence, Gotto needs media attention and name recognition. However, Gotto concedes to the press outside of Nashville (which ironically got his name wrong) that the crunched anomalies are practically inconsequential.

So, why is Mayor Karl Dean bent on helping Mr. Gotto against the memory of a well-received former police chief when most of the Mayor’s constituents are not raising hell about Comstat, given their experience of crime? There is no doubt that Gotto is getting love and support from the powerful state GOP. However, Mayor Dean’s own recommendations of Mr. Serpas to New Orleans concede that Nashville was safer after his arrival than before. This about-face makes no sense until we let ourselves think as the politicos do.

I cannot help but be curious about the timing of the internal audit. Reason dictates that the Mayor should have conducted an internal audit of MNPD’s Comstat when he took office 3 years ago. A new Mayor conducting a comparative audit of the police department to evaluate the tools they use to fight crime is expected.

But now an audit looks like a waste of resources in a time where economic downturn and natural disaster tax Nashville.

And my curiosity extends to the internal audit itself. A proper audit should be independent with no political strings attached to the Mayor’s office. Internal audits conducted by a Mayor who aspires to re-election smack of influence and chicanery.

Any attempt to find “the dirt” on former Chief Serpas at this point looks like a design to help Karl Dean win a second term.

The Mayor cannot afford spikes in crime in a post-Serpas Nashville. His office relies on the public perception that streets are getting safer. Ronal Serpas is gone and not likely to challenge any attempt to spin perception of his tenure in Nashville. New Orleans will keep him busy enough.

Dare I suggest that the Mayor has seized the opportunity, even with the lack of public demand, to use the police department to steer his next campaign into an advantageous position?

Pardon me for trying to think this out along the lines of the politicos, because this uproar matters little to those who do not hold political aspirations. I’ll be taking this audit with a grain of salt encased in a wish that Metro had put our resources to better, higher use.


5 Responses

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  1. […] Byrd says Mayor Dean’s audit of the police stats is nothing but a re-election ploy: I cannot help but be curious about the timing of the internal audit. Reason dictates that the […]

  2. […] the latter has left for New Orleans. Or maybe he has more strategic designs on police crime stats. More at local knowledge. No Comments by Enclave on May 18, 2010 filed in Enclave Previous postHappy Hour: Birds […]

  3. […] paying attention. I don’t know Serpas from Adam, and there have been good reports about his service in Nashville. Something, however, doesn’t make sense […]

  4. […] or seven weeks ago a couple of Metro Council members, the Mayor’s Office, and the local media questioned the integrity of former police chief Ronal Serpas’s reporting of crime statistics after he […]

  5. Elyssa Durant said, on August 10, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    dude… don’t have too much fun!!

    but i happen happen to have some.. um secret recordings of crimes taking place while receiving funds miappropriated through MDHA. reported that went from bad to worse to a disaster of epic proportions.

    but they know this.

    on second thought… go ahead, have a blast! you won’t be laughing alone.

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