Interview with Chief Anderson of Nashville

Chief Steve Anderson, Nashville Police Dept.
Chief Steve Anderson, Nashville Police Dept.

The following is an interesting and insightful interview of Chief Anderson by Steve Hale on March 20, 2015 in “The Nashville Scene.” (I have highlighted what I believe to be key areas.

  • What have you learned about law enforcement in 2014?

“I think that I’ve learned a lot, from other chiefs from across the nation about how they’ve handled things, about they’re being open and candid and about things that they might have done different.

“I’ve learned that as much as people openly express their satisfaction about the police work here in Nashville, that there’s a whole segment that aren’t trusting and that’s in all communities

“I think that it’s opened my eyes to there is a lot of people who have distrust in government, in police work, that maybe I didn’t know existed as widely as it has.

“And a lot of that has to do with our history, as a government and in police work. I think Ferguson, obviously, opened a lot of people’s eyes. I think I said when Ferguson occurred, that just didn’t happen overnight. That one incident didn’t create — there was something below the surface, bubbling, long before that incident in Ferguson. What I’ve come to realize is that nationwide, there is that distrust, that unrest, that need to bring about change, that’s just below the surface. And I think the lesson that myself and other chiefs are talking about at this point is we can’t let Ferguson pass us by. We don’t want waste a crisis, so to speak. We want to continue to examine where we need to be in law enforcement, because although you’re not seeing much going on across the nation at this point, it’s still just went below the surface again. It’s still there.

“So, we’ve got to work very hard, overcome our history and see what’s going on across the nation and see how we can, as much as possible, gather a larger percentage of the population that have confidence and trust. Because you can’t be an effective police department anywhere without the confidence of the public… We’re in a much better posture here in Nashville than in a lot of other cities our size.

  • Why do you think that is?

“We have sort of instilled the idea of public service in our police officers. We’re a young police department, so as we speak I’m just having our analysis people look to tell me what the average time in service of our officers is. So, we emphasize that in training. We have driven it from the top down as we have evolved, I’ll say, over the last ten years. We have people in leadership positions — the deputy chiefs, the commanders, the sergeants, the lieutenants — that realize, our job is being accountable to the public.

“So we’ve worked very hard all across Nashville. We have 622 community groups that we meet with on a regular basis and attending 2,110 meetings in 2014 collectively. We have moved to a neighborhood concept. Over the last three years we have opened up two new precincts, so instead of Nashville being divided into six geographical areas, it’s now eight geographical areas. And we’re looking at the ninth precinct and how we divide it out again, making each commander responsible for that area and by continually reducing the geographical size and the population, allowing the commander and the people surround the commander to get closer to the community…”

Read the full interview HERE.

My Note:  Familiar quality concepts:

  • Learn from others.
  • Being open and candid.
  • Overall accountability.
  • Command responsibility.
  • Trust-building.
  • Small geographical districts.
  • Overcome history.
  • Policing as public service.