Tenn. police chief praised for message gone viral

Chief Anderson's response to a critic was exemplary of how law enforcement can bridge the gap with the communities they serve


By Police1 Staff

Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson is gaining national praise for an email he sent his staff Friday addressing a critic’s message about the way the department had handled recent anti-police protests.

“Anderson's eloquent response is the very definition of taking the high road at a time when many police departments are wrestling with the relationships they have with the communities they serve,” wrote Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor. “It's notable that he takes the time to respond — something many public leaders would not do — and furthermore that he writes back with a respectful and thought-provoking tone that elevates the conversation.

Chief Anderson’s message, originally posted to the city’s website, appears below in its entirety.

A Christmas Message for the MNPD from Chief Steve Anderson

12/26/2014

To All Employees:

It is the holiday season and this has been a good year.  My sincere thanks for the work you do every day to make this a successful police department.  The Nashville public is especially pleased with the work you do and has even more confidence in you as events have unfolded over the last few weeks.

Over the last weeks, across the nation, and here in Nashville, we have witnessed many protests and demonstrations.  Some of the demonstrations have been peaceful.  Some have been violent, with significant property damage.  Here in Nashville, persons have gathered to express their thoughts in a non-violent manner.  I thank all involved for the peaceful manner in which they have conducted themselves.

I also thank you.  As a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, you have responded to these events in a manner that clearly shows that this is a professional police department staffed by professional individuals who respect the points of view of all persons.  Again, thank you for showing the Nashville public that, individually and collectively, they have a police department they can be proud of.

Obviously, as you have come to know over your police career, not everyone will understand or agree with the manner in which we have responded during these demonstrations.  In any endeavor we undertake, decisions should be made with a view toward producing the best outcome for all of Nashville.  Our decisions must be made with this in the forefront.  However, in that we work for the public, public opinion should be given consideration in the decision making process in matters such as this.

Overwhelmingly, in comments that have been directed to me, the public is supportive of your actions.  Obviously, some have expressed disagreement.  Most have stated their disapproval in a well thought out and rational manner.  Their thoughts should be respected and given consideration.

However, as in any similar issue, there is a fringe, generally about 5 percent, on either end of the approval spectrum that have very strong views.  It is readily apparent that their thought processes are driven, not by what has occurred during the demonstration, but more by the social positions taken by the demonstrators.  Clearly, they are more angry at the thoughts expressed by the demonstrators than how the demonstrations are being conducted.  While I respect their right to take that position, we cannot allow those views to be a part of our decision making process.  Decisions need to be made with a view toward what is best for all of Nashville.

Below is my reply to one such email I received.  I have removed the name and other identifying information from the email in order to respect the privacy of the individual.

Again, the Nashville public is very proud of you and the work you have done over the last years.  The confidence and support of the public is continually and loudly expressed to both me and the Mayor at any time we are out in the public.  Thank you for making this a very impressive police department--another thing we can celebrate during this holiday season.

I wish you and your family well during the holidays and I am predicting, thanks to the work that you do day in and day out, that we will have another very successful year.

The email he received and his response can be found here.

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