#7. Community Police Academy – OPA, EDU, VCD

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 Tuesday night’s Community Police Academy, we heard from three speakers.

The first speaker was Kathy Morante who oversees the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). On TV, they call this Internal Affairs. This office investigates complaints brought against police officers. Morante, a civilian attorney, reports directly to the Chief.

While individuals do file complaints against officers, surprisingly, the majority of complaints come from within the department. Clearly the officers are policing themselves.

As we learned in an earlier class, body cameras have had a tremendous (and positive) impact on policing. In the past, a complaint may have boiled down to an unresolvable he-said-she-said situation. Today, there is always video evidence.

In addition, each case has the possibility to go to mediation where each side is given the opportunity to speak. Many times, a complaint is based on a misunderstanding that can be resolved in mediation.

The second speaker was the lieutenant who oversees the Entertainment District Unit. This unit was created in February and is responsible for patrolling Nashville’s party zone—Lower Broad, the Gulch, Printers Alley, etc. This unit of 30 officers works on Thursdays and Sundays from 3:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

The third speaker was from the Violent Crime Division. This division was formed in 2021 to handle violent incidents, armed robberies, and carjackings at the county level. In the past, each precinct handled the crimes within their jurisdiction. This change is part of Chief Drake’s emphasis on “precision policing.”

It was a long evening but emphasized the complexity of a large police department. Again, I was greatly impressed by the expertise, professionalism, and dedication exhibited by these officers.

On Friday night of this week, I will have my Ride Along with an officer from the Hermitage Precinct. Next week, we have two sessions, one of which will be at the gun range.