Monday, September 22, 2008

Metro Police Department needs to be investigated

My mentor, the Rev. Enoch Fuzz of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, tells the story of a young man who recently stepped up during a church service and made a statement.

He said he was going to quit running from the law and turn himself in. So he handed his personal belongings to his tearful mother in the congregation. And Rev. Fuzz ultimately took him to police headquarters to give himself up.

A week or so later, Rev. Fuzz received a subpoena to appear at the young man's court hearing. Why? Fuzz was told that the police found drugs on the young man.

Drugs? Why would someone who is giving himself up still have drugs on his body? It doesn't make sense. And the suspicion is that Metro Police planted the drugs on the young man.

Fuzz says this matter is not an isolated case. He has talked to Chief Serpas in the past and recently met with the Davidson County attorney general. Yet nothing has changed.

I've had no trouble with Metro Police. But I know Rev. Fuzz. And he doesn't make stuff up. Coupled with attorney Elliott Ozment's column about police racial profiling -- most recently in arresting a Hispanic man for simply sitting in a laundromat waiting to go to work -- Metro Nashville has some serious problems in the conduct of at least some of its police officers.

Awareness is the first step. And Fuzz's and Ozment's statements point to a real problem with Metro Police. Someone in authority should investigate through the composition of an independent board of citizens. And that board should become a permanent fixture to receive complaints from the public.

No one doubts the difficult job all police officers have to handle. Chief Serpas has had a good record of reducing crime with effective policing strategies. He is a student of sociology. And stacked against Sheriff Daron Hall, Serpas is Sherlock Holmes compared to the Keystone Kops.

But a city without justice for all is an affront to America and the sacrifice of our founding fathers. Sure these two outrages are just against people of color. But such wrongs ultimately work up the ladder toward scandal.

Nashville already has a bad reputation when it comes to its treatment of human beings, because of Sheriff Hall. Someone in authority must finally step forward and find out the truth and correct the wrongs before they become the standard and not the exception.

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