Suspect’s race, level of resistance key predictors in whether police use force, Community Review Board report says

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A report compiled by Metro’s Community Review Board found Black and Hispanic people were more likely to be recipients of force by police, but like a similar report released last July, Metro police say the presentation of the data leaves the reader with a false narrative or misperception.

The CRB presented raw numbers in its report, which include 2,145 Black people being recipients of force in 2022 compared to 1,020 white people.

“We’re not saying that our people, African American people are treated unfairly because it’s a myth in our minds. It’s the truth,” CRB member, Mary Beard said during a CRB meeting after the report was released last month.

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The CRB also incorporated rates into the report by considering the percentage of Black and white people in Nashville, and the percentage of Black and white people who are suspects and arrestees for all crime and violent crime in 2021.

According to the data, Black people were more likely to become recipients of police force than white people except in two cases, when the subject was a criminal suspect in 2021, and when the subject was a violent crime suspect in 2021. In those cases, white people were more likely to become recipients of use of force, according to the data.

The report also documented use of force incidents by school resource officers. According to the data, 96% of youth who were recipients of force in 2023 were Black, and 58% were female.

“You’re degrading our young Black men and women in the schools, you’re degrading them in their homes, you’re degrading them as they become adults, and you’re putting them in jail in disproportionate numbers,” Beard said.

Not only was race a key predicting factor in use of force, but also, the suspect’s level of resistance. As resistance increased, use of force increased, according to the report.

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The CRB released a similar use of force report last July, which Metro police strongly criticized for leaving “the reader with a false narrative or misperception” due to the way the data was presented, among other concerns. In addition, the department said the CRB used raw numbers instead of rates to “provide the greatest dramatic effect.”

Metro also pointed out the report’s lack of discussion about the “exceedingly small number of MNPD interactions with the public that actually result in a [use of force] event.”

A spokesperson for Metro police told News 2 via email the department’s analysts have similar concerns regarding the most recent report. They added the department is unclear what complaint triggered the report, which is required by state law in order for the CRB to conduct research.

Despite that, Metro Councilwoman at large, Delishia Porterfield has sponsored legislation that would require Metro police to release use-of-force data quarterly, and include the subject’s age, ethnicity, gender, de-escalation techniques the officer used before using force, and the number of times a gun or taser was used.

“Tasers were being used in some instances on individuals under the age of 18, but it didn’t show what the age was. So, that was something I really wanted to get more information about, so we can get a hold of how hold the individuals are, the children are that are being tased,” Porterfield said.

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Metro Council will vote on second reading of the proposed legislation during their next meeting on March 19.

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