#11. Community Police Academy – Outreach

For 12 weeks, Sherard Edington is taking part in the Community Police Academy offered by the Nashville Police Department. Through lectures and demonstrations, he is learning about the inner workings of law enforcement in Davidson County. These are his reports.

Dear Friends,

On our schedule, this week’s class—Community Outreach and Partnerships–looked to be the least interesting of the series! No guns, no high-speed pursuits, no stakeouts. However, if only for the pure enthusiasm of the speakers, this was one of our most engaging evenings of the past 12 weeks.

The officers and civilians who spoke were part of OCOP—the Office of Community Outreach and Partnerships. (Cops love their acronyms.) These people are the face of law enforcement to Davidson County’s under-served and marginalized communities—immigrants, homeless, LGBTQ+, and others.

Most members of these communities have an understandable fear of law enforcement. If they are immigrants, they likely came from a place where corruption and brutality defined the police. The officers of OCOP are reaching out and building relationships and partnerships with people who might normally avoid any encounter with the law.

For example, one member of OCOP spends most of his days visiting the homeless encampments and building relationships with those folk. He works with various aid agencies to deliver assistance with the ultimate goal of getting these folk off the street and into housing. If that sounds like social work, it is. But it also reduces crime and improves the quality of life for the community.

Another part of OCOP is Faith to RECOP, which stands for Faith to Reach Every Community Outreach Partnership. Led by an ordained civilian pastor, this office works with Nashville’s different faith communities.

Lastly, we heard about the SRO (School Resource Officer) program. SRO’s are not just about law enforcement in the schools, but about putting a positive face of the police on the children through education.

The evening was a fitting conclusion to the Community Police Academy in that it was another reminder that policing isn’t a game of Cops & Robbers. Exceptional policing is about showing respect and compassion to all people.

This was our last class presentation. Next week is graduation.

And remember, when you hear a siren, GET OUT OF THE WAY!


For more about the activities of OCOP, check out their Facebook page.